No thank you

City votes ‘no’ on Daugherty Pilot recommendation

Clinton City Councilman Zack Farrar makes a point during last Wednesday’s special called meeting at Clinton City Hall. (photo:Ken Leinart )
The City of Clinton did not approve a recommendation for a Pilot for a planned apartment development in the Daugherty Building on Main Street in Clinton.

The measure failed 5-2 during a special called meeting last Wednesday at Clinton City Hall.

The Pilot is an “in lieu of tax.”

The only two members supporting the measure were Councilman Brian Hatmaker and Mayor Scott Burton.

The Daugherty Building’s current appraisal is $146,000 and pays city and county taxes of $9,331 — $2,328 to the city and $7,004 to the county.

The Pilot for the Daugherty Building is a 15-year abatement that would pay $25,000 annually in lieu of taxes during that period — $6,236 for the city and $18,764 for the county.

But the bottom line was it didn’t matter how the City of Clinton voted. The ultimate decision on the Pilot for the Daugherty Building goes through the Anderson County Industrial Development Board (IDB).

“So the process on this is we’re just giving a thumbs up or thumbs down. We’re not voting yes or no, we’re just giving a recommendation,” Clinton Mayor Scott Burton said.

The Pilot will next go before Anderson County Commission to vote up or down and then to the IDB.

City Finance Director Gail Cook pointed out the process is set up this way, “Only because they’re not a housing Pilot program existing.”

Councilman Zack Farrar noted the Anderson County Commission has to give authority to the IDB, “To do what they’re asked to do.”

The motion to vote on the resolution almost didn’t make it. There was a lull after Mayor Burton asked for the motion before getting a motion and an even longer lull before the measure drew a second.

“I’ll second it,” Councilman Rob Herrell said. “I think we ought to talk about it.”

Responding to a question by Clinton resident Ms. Taylor whether the Daugherty Building Pilot.

“Are we saying the benefit of this unit is going to outweigh the costs of city services?” she asked.

“That is a factor for this body to deliberate … Actually make a suggestion to the body that will deliberate (Anderson County Commission),” Farrar said.

Mayor Burton weighed in and said “There going to be a high potential this development is going to happen anyway. That we just won’t support the Pilot. We get to save the building, that’s very important to me. I don’t want this to be another Magnet Mill, which it could very easily be. It’s been neglected for many years … Been looking for a god tenant for probably 40 or 50 years.

“I look at it as being a partner to do everything we can, as a city, for this project to be successful.”

Taylor said her concern with the process was a question of residential versus industrial — Industrial properties bring in jobs and revenue. “I can’t quite understand how this does the same,” she said.

Burton said the Pilot request for a residential property is new, but it is going to be something that will have to be dealt with in the future.

Listing off what he considers “blighted properties” in the city, the mayor said those areas, “Because people who are going to buy into that, they’re going to ask for it.

“It’s new from a residential standpoint, but it’s going to grow in popularity.”

Council members expressed their opinions on the Pilot, with most of the members sayng they have gone “back and forth” on the proposal.

Councilman Herrell said, “I do struggle with the residential, the housing Pilot, because you don’t know the return on investment.”

Farrar was not hesitant in expressing his dissatisfaction with the Pilot or with a notion that not supporting it would somehow harm the city.

“We’re doing great. If you didn’t know, The City of Clinton is doing fantastic. Not just financially, but economically. There’s a lot of development happening in South Clinton. There’s a lot of leadership on this council, in this community, in this audience.

“I don’t feel the city has to be desperate for … This is the last train that’s leaving the station.

Or what? We’re going to pay off our debt in two years and our schools are going to win more awards? And we’ve got a Main Street program now, so what’s the detriment? Oh, well it stays where it is and we lose the opportunity to rehabilitate the building. Maybe not necessarily so. “There are other parties, I think, that are interested in that building.”

Then Farrar threw in a head sturner, “I say the city could be one of them.”

With the building appraised at $167,000, Farrar said he’d be in favor of the city buying the building at a reasonable price.

“And then dictating the future of what happens to that property. I’d much rather see that happen.”

Farrar added that looking at what that property — as apartments — would demand on city services would “far outweigh any economic benefit right now.”

Farrar said the project doesn’t promote jobs or other economic activity that would merit a Pilot abatement.

He also said he thought it would set a dangerous precedent for future developers.