Tax break for water-snow park clears final Metro Council vote

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 12:32am

Metro government has done its part toward accommodating a first-ever water and snow park to locate in Nashville, with a key financial incentive clearing a final Metro Council vote Tuesday night.

The council voted 31-2 Tuesday to approve on the final of three votes a bill that delivers a 60 percent property tax abatement over 12 years to Gaylord Entertainment Inc. and Dollywood Co., which through a group called Park Holdings plan to build the new $50 million water and snow park near the former Opryland grounds. The tax break is valued at $5.8 million, but council members said the benefits far outweigh any downside.

“This will be a tremendous economic boon for the area,” said Councilman Phil Claiborne, who represents the nearby Music Valley business district, still rebuilding following the city’s devastating flood two years ago. “It’s a win-win for the city and everybody involved.”

The tax break, which originated from Mayor Karl Dean’s administration, cleared after no deliberation, with council members Duane Dominy and Josh Stites the lone no-votes.

Councilman Robert Duvall, who has expressed opposition against the plan, was absent for the vote. The council approved the proposal by a similar margin on second reading two weeks ago.

Construction on the new water and snow park –– situated on 114-acres of Gaylord-owned property –– is slated to begin in 2013. Dollywood officials expect the park to open in 2015.

Supporters of the plan have cited a report from the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research, which claims the new water and snow park will generate 1,900-plus construction jobs and 762 jobs from the park’s onsite activities.

Claiborne, referencing the same report, pointed out the park is projected to have an overall economic impact of $106 million during the construction phase and $66.9 million annually after it opens.

During deliberation two weeks ago, multiple council members spoke of the need to fill the vacuum created following the departure of Opryland in 2007.

“There are a ton of people in this city that think that we ought to have something like Opryland, and wished that it was back, and will be glad to see something like this for families –– regardless of how we get it,” At-large Councilman Tim Garrett said.

The council’s approval of the Gaylord/Dollywood deal is the latest in a series of property tax abatements Metro has awarded to companies in recent months. Others were delivered to Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America and LifePoint Inc., a hospital chain, in exchange for future investments.

5 Comments on this post:

By: anp2j on 4/18/12 at 6:13

Wow. Why cant' reg people get tax breaks? why cant small business owners get tax breaks? This is why people think the taxes are unfair. It is just not the same rules for businesses and regular folk.

By: parnell3rd on 4/18/12 at 6:34

Here comes the Property tax increse. Thanks to another liberal transplant Mayor Dean.

By: girliegirl on 4/18/12 at 6:46

um....er....wasn't the "departure of Opryland" EARLIER than 2007? (as per Wiki: The park closed permanently on December 31, 1997)

By: Loner on 4/18/12 at 9:34

Dragged over from the Up For Debate board which is devoted to this same topic:

By: Loner on 4/18/12 at 10:32

Good morning, Predville.

What do you think of the water-snow park, and the tax break that goes along with it easily clearing final vote with no deliberation?

It's corporate welfare, no doubt about that. No deliberation means that your Metro Council is a useless collection of free-loaders....Nashville might just as well go to a Feudal Lord system of governance...Council members are there strictly for the generous benefits...a bunch of toadies, IMO.

Apparently, nobody challenged any part of the rosy report on the feasibility of this project which was issued by the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research...in other words, like most things in Tennessee governance...it's all faith-based.

As for the snow in the "snow park"....don't eat the yellow snow.

By: Loner on 4/18/12 at 10:44

If I were writing the headline on this topic, I'd write: Snow Park - or -Snow Job?

No deliberation and absolute faith, based upon a single report from a single source: the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research?

I Googled that prestigious-looking name and found out a few things:

Here's a listing of their prestigious staff:

http://cber.bus.utk.edu/staff.htm

Very impressive-looking.

Seems like the CBER has been putting a whole lot of time recently into analyzing Families First...the TN welfare program. Here's the URL for the data pile they have amassed on welfare for individuals and families:

http://cber.bus.utk.edu/welfare.htm

I have not waded through the data, but on the surface, it appears that CBER is in favor of corporate welfare, as in the case of this proposed Snow & Water Park....but when it comes to welfare for families and individuals, they have a different view....that sort of welfare is in need of "reform"...but the corporate kind is OK.

I assume that the lawmakers and business community tell the CBER which fish to fry.