Taking a closer look at the PILOT program revenues

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When you log on the EDGE website, you see a lot of numbers.

$1 billion in investments $500 million in tax revenues. It looks great, but now watchdogs are saying those numbers don’t show up in the city and county revenues.

“$568 million in new tax revenue? Show me the beef!”

Joe Saino is a local government watchdog. He says there’s plenty of blame for Memphis’ current pension problem, which ultimately caused the city to cut employee benefit cuts.

The unions point to the PILOT program, and the tax credit handouts to recruit big business for the city and county.

Saino disagrees, but does think the program needs a second look.

“Maybe that’s the only way we are going to get or retain companies but it certainly isn’t paying off in big tax revenues.”

And EDGE, the group that runs the pilot program, isn’t exactly saying when we will see those benefits payout.

The group projects $568 million in new tax revenues, but doesn’t give an exact timeline. It could last a decade.

EDGE did say PILOTs generated $8 million in property tax revenue in 2013. Not a small amount of money, but not $500 million either.

Saino said, “What they claim on their website is just false advertising.”

He says PILOTa help bring jobs and money to the Mid-South, but the city and county must do a better job explaining how tax incentives help everyone, not just businesses.

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