Hospital Corporation of America, the nation’s largest private health care provider, is close to landing a $3 million property tax break from Metro for building a new $200 million data center in Antioch.
The Metro Council, after no deliberation, gave preliminary approval Tuesday to hand HCA a 60 percent property tax abatement on real and personal property taxes over seven years to accommodate a new Antioch data center at The Crossings on Old Franklin Road. The incentive, which Mayor Karl Dean’s administration engineered, is set for final approval in April.
We had a choice; that is to say, the Mayor had a choice. It was the same choice he had when he raised stormwater fees to pay for improvements a few years ago. At that time he raised residential water rates at a higher rate than he did business water rates, even though the latter generate huge amounts of stormwater run-off with paved parking lots and expansive roofs. At that time a few council progressives shouted protests loud and long about favoritism and dirty dealmaking with the rich.
He's passing out tax breaks now and sending us the bill for them later. Yet, some of the same progressive council members who fought the good fight last time are sitting out this one in silence. In sum, Karl Dean and the Metro Council are choosing to subsidize wealthy business on the backs of smaller property owners instead of requiring them to pay their fair share just like you and I will be expected to when the tax hammer falls.
Tax breaks for the wealthy and influential are just another form of class warfare, and the Mayor and Metro Council are choosing up sides against the middle class. But when the budget discussions start percolating in a little while not a word will be said about Metro's preferential option for the rich.
Instead, it will be about collecting the money for our public school kids, for police protection of our neighborhoods, and for job growth in the private sector. Opponents of unbalanced tax increases will be scapegoated for opposing full funding for Metro services.
These tax breaks will be forgotten or ignored.
Shame on council progressives for not lifting a single voice to oppose. Shame on council conservatives who will likely howl loud and long against a property tax increase but did not bat an eye at the subsidies flying out the courthouse door to big business (you will be the ones who deserve all of the scorn and backlash for abandoning Metro services with any budget cuts). A pox on both of your houses.