IDB to Reconsider Abatement

Stan Mitchell tipped me off to a blurb buried in the Sentinel’s business section today: the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board has scheduled a special meeting on October 3 to reconsider the million-dollar tax abatement granted last week to National Fitness Center, which opened in July.

In a few short weeks, the new gym has already driven an across-the-street competitor out of business. There are no sales taxes collected on fitness club memberships, and the jobs created are not of the wage structure to warrant such municipal largesse. In short, what’s the incentive to give the incentive?

The move to reconsider came when Board members realized that, contrary to the information presented at the time of the vote, National Fitness representatives not only knew about the abatement process ahead of time, but had been urged repeatedly to do so before they even broke ground on the new facility.

IDB Board members are listed below, should you wish to contact them:

William J. Biloski 33 Palisades Parkway

Stephen T. Grady 110 Connors Drive

Douglas B. Janney, Jr. 118 Everest Circle

Alan L. Liby 100 Amanda Place

John D. McKittrick 345 Louisiana Avenue

H. D. Osucha 249 Gum Hollow Road

William M. “Bill” Pardue 222 Connors Circle

Harold E. Trapp 102 Concord Road

David E. Wilson 1079 W. Outer Drive

Tax abatement incentives should be used to businesses or industries targeted to fill very specific needs: defined (high-wage) employment sectors, or retail businesses that meet an unfilled need — thereby keeping more sales tax dollars in our city that would otherwise go to larger shopping areas in Knoxville or online.

I’m delighted to have National Fitness in Oak Ridge, and I hope that they prosper. However, they don’t seem to fit the criteria for such a huge tax break.

2 thoughts on “IDB to Reconsider Abatement

  1. Thanks for the date Netmom. I didn’t get the time either last night from the ORCC meeting. I believe the attraction of OR to businesses has come to a point where ORCC should start forcing IDB to collect taxes from speculative businesses for a the Great City of Oak Ridge. That fitness center is in direct competition with the Roane State Community College “Fitness for Living” course that wants area seniors to sign up, and it is cheap $25 for a semester. From Tammy Stanford,

    “Roane State has staffed fitness centers at the Roane County and Oak Ridge campuses. Whether you’re looking to fulfill a medically required workout regimen, or just gain or maintain fitness, enroll in Roane State’s “Fitness for Living” course without the hassle of signing up for a credit class.”

    I hope the new fitness center doesn’t feel attacked by local schools providing a better service than they, the private sector.

  2. I don’t know much about politics (trying to rectify that) or abatements, but it seems the epitome of stupidity to give a tax abatement to a company that has already built and occupied a building. Are they going to close down and leave town if they don’t get the abatement??
    City Council needs to stop throwing incentives around needlessly, and start funding the things that really matter.

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