The Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce has a TMZ in mind. And it wants city and county officials to provide tax incentives to fill it.
This TMZ is not the celebrity gossip website. The letters, both online and locally, stand for "Thirty Mile Zone."
Chamber Retail Committee Chairman Aaron Spencer asked members of the Hopkins County Fiscal Court on Tuesday to consider a property tax incentive plan to attract new retail business and other industry to the county's 87 square miles.
Spencer disclosed a company offering at least 30 full-time positions "is actively looking at our area." He declined to name the company after his presentation to the Fiscal Court's economic development committee.
Spencer said that the Christian County Fiscal Court passed its own "development incentive district" plan last year. In fact, the third part of a three-piece incentive plan was approved by that county's magistrates Tuesday.
Christian County Treasurer Walter Cummings said the package already is providing benefits there, including a new car dealership and a factory warehouse.
"That's not to say that they might have come anyway," Cummings said. "But it certainly sweetened the pot."
The plan outlined by Spencer would mirror Christian County's by giving Hopkins County "30% of the increase in ad valorem taxes resulting from development in excess of the ad valorem tax bill ..." The developer would receive a 70% increase in ad valorem taxes, resulting in a rebate over 10 years.
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"This puts us on a level playing field," Spencer said.
But some magistrates had concerns about the chamber's proposal. Hannah Myers feared businesses might come and go quickly, leaving the county with economic white elephants.
Myers also wondered what current businesses will think of using tax incentives to bring in new ones.
"You're taking away my business for something else coming in," she suggested as an example.
Magistrate Charlie Beshears thanked the chamber for coming up with the incentive idea.
"I'd like to do something, even if it's wrong," he said, "because what we have right now isn't working."
Officials indicated any tax incentive plan would have to be a cooperative effort between Hopkins County, the school district and the city of Madisonville.
Mayor Kevin Cotton said discussions between Madisonville and the chamber are already underway. But he said any incentives will not be set in stone.
"It's going to be based on the company coming in and how many jobs it's going to create," Cotton said.
In other action, the Hopkins County Fiscal Court:
• hired Ken Todd as the county's public works director. The former Madisonville city employee replaces Ken Boucherie, who resigned in early August for a job in the private sector.
• discussed whether to reinstate McIntosh Chapel Road to the county road system. The road near Nortonville was removed from the system in 2011.
• announced nearly 2,000 people have signed up for alerts from the county's Smart 911 service. A sign-up table is planned at this weekend's Nebo Fall Festival.