Council passes AmSurg, Oberto tax breaks despite last-minute amendment effort

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:04am

AmSurg and Oberto Sausage Company are the latest corporations on the receiving end of tax breaks from the city, after the Metro Council gave final approval to incentive packages for each on Tuesday night.

The deals did face a bit more opposition than has become expected with the increasingly frequent arrangements but still passed overwhelmingly, with votes of 34 to 5 and 35 to 4 respectively.

For AmSurg, the largest operator of ambulatory surgery centers in the country, the council approved a $2.3 million dollar tax break over eight years, meant to ensure the company’s headquarters remains in Davidson County. They will receive a 100 percent property tax abatement for the first two years and a 60 percent abatement for the next six.

Currently based out of two buildings in the Burton Hills development in Green Hills, AmSurg is consolidating their headquarters into a new three-story building within the same development.

Oberto, which is planning to renovate and operate a manufacturing facility on Armory Drive in South Nashville, will receive a 50 percent break on the difference between the 2011 property taxes paid and what they would pay under the newly increased rate. The estimated total tax break for the five-year deal is $700,000.

According to analysis from Metro Council attorney Jon Cooper, the Washington state-based jerky maker will be increasing full-time jobs at the facility from 130 to 310 within the five years.

Councilman Josh Stites, a consistent opponent of Metro’s tax incentive packages, offered amendments that would have required the companies to reach job-creation benchmarks in order to receive the full tax break. They were defeated, but the idea of including more accountability in similar deals going forward found support.

Councilmen Jason Holleman and Phil Claiborne each told the council that they supported Stites’ idea, but would not vote for it this time because they were hesitant to change the deals at the last minute. They each expressed a hope that such provisions would be considered by Mayor Karl Dean’s administration in the future.

“As we go forward, we’ll listen to this, and we’ll build into it,” said Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling. “The process is the process, and you can’t really negotiate at the last minute. And so I think if this had started when the bill was first introduced and some of the concerns were voiced better, maybe we could have made some of these arrangements. But going forward, we heard it and we’re going to do better. We always try to improve.”

Riebeling also echoed comments from Councilman Sean McGuire, who said that a company like AmSurg, which started in Nashville and has been based in the city for more than 20 years, had proven itself as a worthy partner. Performance standards are important, he said, particularly when there is not a standing relationship with the company.

The council also gave unanimous approval to the mayor’s $110 million mid-year capital spending plan. A majority of the funds in the plan will go to the city’s stormwater program and the new Lentz Public Health Center. The plan also includes improvements to the Bridgestone Arena and the new downtown police precinct.

11 Comments on this post:

By: Ask01 on 2/6/13 at 6:31

Well, Nashville, you get what you vote for.

By: bfra on 2/6/13 at 7:31

Amen Ask01!

By: MusicCity615 on 2/6/13 at 9:18

Yes we do Ask01, and I have no complaints at all. Nashville's unemployment rate is low, especially compared to other parts of the country, and jobs are moving back into our city. I do not like tax breaks, but the reality is Nashville is in a long line a of cities that provide them, and unfortunately if Nashville does not remain competitive on taxes, some jobs will leave.

I do like the idea of having incentive benchmarks in any tax break deal. Any company can project job growth, actually hiring more employees is a different measure.

By: wasaw on 2/6/13 at 11:26

What is the advantage for Nashville taxpayers if , say all, or a large majority of the employees of these two companies reside out of the county? All that we've created is more peolpe on our roadways, at peak traffic hours, using the services of our police and fire. If there are no provision for a majority of employees being Nashville based, what is the advantage? Yes, they might be purchasing their lunch while here. We're releasing the companies from paying their fair share on the services they will receive. Guess who pays? We know who will pay, don't we?

Didn't we learn anything from the "Dell" beating we took several years ago? History repeast itself again. Nashville continues to attempt to buy itself into prosperity.

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/6/13 at 12:41

Nashvillle Metro has a population under 700,000 and a Council member count of 40. 35 District and 6 at-large. New York City has over 10 times as many residents and FOURTEEN aldermen. Tell me the reason for this.
We need to cut the number of Council members for a couple of reasons:
1. They make $15,000 a year for part-time work. That's $600,000 a year, total.
2. Metro subsidizes 75% of their medical insurance. Check with your employer and see how much yours (if you have any) is subsidized.
3. If they serve two terms and in some other circumstances, they get that same insurance at the same subsidy for life. Not only that, but their spouse, dependent children and dependent mother (but not dependent father) get the same insurance at teh same subsidy after the death of the ex-council member.
4. These are the folks who just raised your property tax. It's blamed on Dean, but all he did was approve it. The Council increased it. Even if you rent, your landlord had to raise your rent to pay his property tax increase.

In my opinion, no ELECTED or APPOINTED position at ANY level of government from Federal to local should receive any retirement pay or benefit beyond Medicare and Social Security. Same as the voters who put them in office get.
If they want IRA or 401(k), cool. Metro can set it up and they get to take it with them when they leave office.
My council member says that we need to take into consideration what would happen if they should become totally disabled while serving from some activity not related to their service as a council member (can't conceive of any council activity that could cause that).
My response was to ask what would happen to a self-employed plumber, carpenter, mechanic or other VOTER and TAXPAYER in that case. TennCare would happen. Well, then TennCare should happen to the council member.
Being a member of the Metro Council, the State Legislature, the US Congress or any of the Executive or Judicial branches at those levels is what is called Public Service and is an honor awarded by the people, not a career. There should not be ancillary benefits.
Did you know that there is a free parking area reserved for Members of Congress at each of the three Washington DC airports? That's 1,635 parking spots, close to the terminals that MOCs use free but that just-folks can't use at all.
If a person belongs to a branch of the military, a police force, a fire department, an rmergency medical service or any other job which puts his/her LIFE AT RISK, then they rate retirement pay and benefits. No LIFE AT RISK id the job description, not benefits.
What do YOU think?
Call your council member. You can find the number at this link:

By: bfra on 2/6/13 at 12:51

ConservativeSailor - What a logical comment you just made. Too bad the "kiss Karl's butt crowd" can't see how crooked the Metro gov. club is. The council, does what Karl tell them to & anybody that hasn't seen that by now, belongs to the afore mentioned club.

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/6/13 at 12:54

MusicCity615, wasaw was right. My daughter was part of Dell's failure to keep their side of the bargain.
This Council gave us the new Convention Center with the promise that the users of it would pay for it.
Wanna bet?
Ross Perot was against government subsidy of business expense.
Billed as the world's first purely industrial airport, Alliance airport was developed in a joint venture between the City of Fort Worth, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Hillwood Development Company, a real estate development company owned by Ross Perot, Jr.
Check out the status of payments on that one.

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/6/13 at 12:58

bfra, thanks for the comment. The club is not dependent on the but being kissed. It's the position (mayor or governor or president) that the butt resides in.
Thanks also for overlooking my typos. This Dell keyboard is no better at typing than Dell was at keeping agreements.

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/6/13 at 1:03

ASK01 - you get what the moochers vote for. Read Atlas Shrugged. Half don't pay taxes. Nearly half depend on some form of government payment not related to Social Security or Medicare. I did not vote for a single winner is 2012. If you want REALLY scary, read Sinclair Lewis' 1935 book "It Can't Happen Here". Problem is, it CAN and it IS. Not sure it's recoverable. 2014's resulting House and Senate will tell the tale.

By: bfra on 2/6/13 at 3:28

It wouldn't surprise me if some of this yes sir council group hasn't found a way of getting on the freebie gravy trains they are all so eager to support.

By: Ask01 on 2/7/13 at 5:30

So true, bfra.

We should also not forget the Karl Dean supporters who turn out to support any inane proposal or project.

Their undying unconditional support suggests they have a reserved place at the trough.

They will, of course, deny any favors.