An economic development plan with tax increment financing for the construction of a Nissan dealership was approved Tuesday by the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Purchase of equipment needed by the town if it assumes operations of the Greeneville-Greene County Landfill and Transfer Station and two events planned by the Greene County Partnership in light of the cancellation of the Iris Festival this year were also approved by the board.

The town’s approval of the economic development plan for the dealership project was the last one needed for the proposal that will provide up to $300,000 in financing for the expansion of the Gateway dealership on West Andrew Johnson Highway. The Industrial Development Board and Greene County Commission approved the plan at meetings in the last 10 days.

A new Nissan showroom is under construction adjacent to the existing Gateway Ford Lincoln dealership, and the economic plan will provide tax increment funding for the project, which also includes the addition of service department space and improvements to the existing facilities.

Through the tax increment financing method, the property tax level will be frozen at the level collected for the undeveloped property, City Administrator Todd Smith told the board.

Once the expansion is completed, the property will be assessed again. The difference between the previous assessment and the new value will be used to pay pack the funds that are financed, he explained.

Based on the amount of the improvement and the projected sales taxes to be generated from the expansion, Smith said he would recommend the plan’s approval to the board.

According to the economic impact plan, property taxes to the town and county currently total $46,013 combined, which would increase to an estimated $70,227 once the development is completed.

Once the dealership is at a full projected sales volume, $840,819 is anticipated in additional annual sales taxes with $19,536 estimated in increased local sales tax revenue, according to the plan. The expanded dealership operation is also expected to support 15 jobs.

There is no liability on the part of either the town or county to cover the financing arrangement as the developer is legally bound by the plan to cover the difference if tax revenues are not generated as expected.

LANDFILL EQUIPMENT

In other business, the board approved the purchase of a new wheel loader for the Public Works Department for use at the Landfill and Transfer Station at a cost of $230,000.

Town Engineer and Public Works Director Brad Peters asked the board to consider approval of the wheel loader to allow the purchase order process to begin prior to its next meeting if the department begins operation of the landfill and transfer station on July 1.

As a result of contract negotiations with GFL, formerly Waste Industries, for disposal of household garbage from Greeneville and Greene County at its landfill in Hamblen County, the operation of the landfill and transfer station may again be handled locally.

In its last contract with GFL, that company handled the operations at the closed landfill, which is serving as the location where the garbage collected by Public Works in Greeneville and at the Greeneville convenience centers is taken to be transferred to trucks for transport to the Hamblen County facility.

The town has made a proposal to the county for the Public Works Department to take over operations of the landfill and transfer station, Peters said, but a decision had not yet been made.

If the county accepts the proposal, Tuesday’s approval allows the purchase process to begin immediately after that decision is made, beneficial timing due to the production schedule for the equipment, he explained.

NEW EVENTS

The board also granted special event requests that will allow downtown streets to be closed for two events in the coming months, which have been planned following the cancellation of the Greene County Partnership’s Iris Festival this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sundown on Depot is a car show that is held in conjunction with the Iris Festival, which would have been held last weekend.

The car show has become an important part of the festival, said Greene County Partnership General Manager Joni Parker, and it is now scheduled for Aug. 22 on Main Street. Last year, the event brought 200 classic cars and over 1,000 spectators downtown.

Since the Iris Festival had to be canceled, the Partnership wants to bring an event downtown in the fall. The inaugural Boo Fest will be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

“We want to make this a destination for the weekend,” she said. “This year we are just moving an Iris Festival type of event to the fall, but hopefully, we can make it an annual fall event.”

Talking with Main Street: Greeneville, Parker said that organization’s annual Halloween Happenings celebration will be on Oct. 30 with Boo Fest the following two days, bringing people downtown for three straight days.

The board also approved $16,872 in upgrades to the radio system used by the Greeneville Police Department. The improvements are to be funded through sales of military surplus equipment by the department.

Before the meeting concluded, Cal Doty was approved as the board’s representative on the Greeneville Regional Planning Commission. Doty fills a vacancy on the planning commission created through the resignation of Jeff Taylor from the board after he was named president and chief executive officer of the Partnership in March.

Tuesday’s meeting was held electronically via the Zoom digital conferencing application and streamed live on the town’s Facebook page due to the coronavirus. Although the board discussed returning to a live meeting for its budget hearing next week, it approved a motion by Alderman Tim Teague to continue streaming the meetings after returning to in-person meetings.

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