Doug Berry, Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce vice president of Economic Development, said there were several properties titled to an industrial development board that were being taxed. That raised a flag because industrial development boards are tax-exempt entities.
About eight expired PILOT agreements with several companies were discovered during an audit of the Bradley County Property Assessor’s Office by the Tennessee Department of Property Assessments. As part of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement, the property was deeded to the industrial development board. Upon expiration of the PILOT agreement, the property was supposed to have been quitclaimed back to the company.
“That has never occurred,” Berry said. “All of these appear to have occurred prior to the formation of the current city and county joint board in 2004.”
The current IDB is now trying to figure out if it has jurisdictional authority to file a quit claim deed since it is by a now defunct board; also, how unresolved is how the cost is to be paid.
“To our knowledge there are eight parcels of land that are still titled to the IDB, though they are not a party to any active PILOT agreements,” he said.
On another topic, Berry said there were three initial inquiries during the holiday period between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. At least two of the three are still active. The third prospect lost interest after it was informed its wastewater would have to be pretreated before it could flow into Cleveland Utilities’ sewer system.
He said the client’s waste stream would contain about 90 percent sodium chloride, a form of salt. The company was looking at a site in the Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Park located south of APD 40 on the south end of Bradley County. Wastewater in South Bradley County is pumped to the north end where it is treated at the Hiwassee Wastewater Treatment Plant.
“In the industrial park where we’ve got them looking, it could potentially eat piping as well as pump station components,” he said.
Berry said he offered to find a possible solution to the problem, but the company knows of two other cities that will not require pretreatment of its wastewater.
“We don’t want to waive their requirement to remove sodium chloride and then have to replace the pump station every three years,” he said.
He said the same unnamed company that has been expressing interest in the speculative building in the Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Park is still interested.
In general, Berry believes 2012 will be an active year based on information exchanges he had with companies between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Inquiries are unusual during Thanksgiving and the end of the year when that time is generally used to catch up on paperwork.
“That’s the first time in my career I can remember having that kind of dialogue or information exchange during the holidays,” Berry said.
He said there seems to be a pent-up demand and companies are beginning to feel relief as the U.S. economy improves. He also speculated that European uncertainty might be causing companies to reconsider making overseas investments.