Memphis Council To Discuss Controversial PILOT Program

(Memphis) Memphis city council members say they hear your cries for change.

Next week, they begin work on changing the controversial program that gives many businesses a big tax break.

One of the ways the local government lures businesses to Memphis and Shelby County is by offering tax incentives called PILOTS, Payment In Lieu of Taxes.

They say some residential tax payers feel they’re carrying too much of the burden and now it’s time to change.

Homeowners are looking at paying more taxes this year while they watch some businesses get big tax breaks.

City council member Harold Collins says his constituents aren’t happy about it.

“Many of the homeowners say they are shouldering much of the burden to supply the city with the resources and the business community needs to step forward a little bit more,” said Collins.

The EDGE board awards these PILOTS.

It’s made up of people appointed by the county and city mayors but the breaks given by the city and county are different.

Companies qualifying for PILOTS get a 75 percent reduction in county property tax rates.

However, they get 90 percent savings from the city of Memphis. Collins says the city may be giving away too much.

“We felt like making it even between the city and county would be one of those steps to let the people know that we hear them,” said Collins.

Not everyone is looking forward to businesses having to pay more.

Collins admits some members of the business community want the PILOT arrangement to stay the same.

If not, they fear some companies will be lured away to nearby Mississippi.

“I think we have to be competitive but at the same time we have to recognize our competitiveness may also be a burden to the homeowners. So, it has to be a balance,” said Collins.

Collins says often times the companies that get the tax breaks end up hiring people from outside of Memphis.

He wants to use the money they save from the PILOTS to help train the workforce here in the city for some of those jobs.

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