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. â€œBillâ€ 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.