The extension was an amendment to the existing memorandum of understanding the city, and other local authorities, have with LakePoint. Council member Charles Lowry, according to a draft of the meeting’s minutes, moved to deny the request. Ed Brush then seconded the motion. Both Lowry and Brush voted for the motion, while Terry Webb and Mayor Al Pallone voted against it. Since council member Brenda Tidwell was not present for the meeting, there was no vote to break the tie and the motion failed.
City Manager Kevin McBurnett said LakePoint requested the extension after it took an extra year to get construction underway.
“The tax abatement was scheduled to start in 2013, I believe, [or] 2014. I don’t remember the exact date, but it just added a year to it because their start up has been slower than they anticipated when they first did the MOU,” he said.
Under the original agreement, LakePoint is set to provide Emerson with a minimum of $10,000 a year in property taxes. At the moment, McBurnett said, the property is worth $12,428.
“So for the first eight years of it, they wouldn’t — it wouldn’t be doing them any good. Only in the ninth year would it do them any good, and they’d save $1,185. Now, that’s if nothing happens in LakePoint and it doesn’t increase in value,” he said.
However, McBurnett realized LakePoint’s property would only increase in value once the facilities are up and running. It was a fact the council considered.
“So, right now, it’s, ‘Hey, you’re asking us for a tax abatement and it’s not going to help you any right now.’ So why are we debating this until we start bringing up some property values — until you start getting some assessed values that are higher,” he said.
Lowry’s consideration, according to McBurnett, was how the city could justify granting a tax abatement to a corporation when Emerson recently set a property tax on its residents.
The city’s next step, McBurnett continued, is to meet with LakePoint officials Friday and discuss the property’s potential value.
“That will be one of the discussions we’ll have with them: what’s your projections? What do you show your projected assessed values being over the next 10 years? What does that amount to in this abatement, so that we can start talking on some real dollar figures. We didn’t have that information,” McBurnett said.
The Emerson City Council could potentially see the amendment again. McBurnett said the other four parties involved, including LakePoint and County Commissioner Steve Taylor, must pass the amendment before sending it to Emerson. At the moment, though, he did not see the amendment’s failure affecting the city’s relationship with LakePoint.
“We have a very good working relationship with them,” he said. “I would find it very hard to believe that they would let something like that come between us in our relationship working together, especially [since] they know we don’t have the data. They provide us with the data, and then we’ll be able to sit down and have some meaningful discussions.”