Local officials have taken steps to get a better handle on which companies are getting big tax breaks from the community and whether they are living up to their pledges.
Missy Kendrick, president of the Rome-Floyd County Development Authority, briefed her board Tuesday on the situation.
One of the tools used for many years by local industrial recruiters is the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, known simply as PILOT.
An incentive for a new company to locate here or an existing industry to expand, a PILOT agreement abates a certain percentage of their property taxes for a specified period of time. Instead, they pay fees to the development authority, which uses the funds for recruitment and operations.
Rome and Floyd County currently has 14 active PILOT agreements — with Ball Container, Ball Packaging, Balta, Bekaert, F&P America, F&P Georgia, Kellogg USA, Kerry, Lowe’s, Marglen, VTI of Georgia, Integrated Fiver Solutions and two with International Paper.
Kendrick’s PILOT presentation included a representative from the tax commissioner’s office, Chief Tax Appraiser Danny Womack, Cave Spring Mayor Rob Ware and Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars.
“We’re just trying to make sure everybody is on the same page,” Womack said, adding that his office tracks market values on both taxable and exempt properties.
Womack said he wanted to make sure everyone knows exactly what property is covered by a tax abatement.
“Sometime there is miscommunication,” he said.
Sure enough, one of the first deals the committee reviewed Monday led to a question about whether the unidentified company’s personal property — typically equipment used in a manufacturing process — was exempt.
“We had the personal property listed as exempt but it may not have been,” Womack said.
Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne said his staff doesn’t get involved in the PILOT agreements until a company actually starts paying taxes.
“Every one of them is a little bit different,” he said.
Another purpose of the session was to review some of the pledges made by the companies with respect to capital investment and jobs, and make sure they are living up to those promises.
Kendrick also reported that proposals are due May 28 for a public/private partnership on a speculative industrial building in the North Floyd Industrial Park.
The RFCDA would provide at least 15 acres of land at $25,000 an acre. The developer would build a minimum of a 100,000-square-foot building, capable of expanding up to 200,000 square feet. Kendrick said a number of firms have expressed some interest in the project.
The authority also went into a closed session to discuss real estate matters but did not take any action.