Memphis leaders tired of losing businesses to surrounding areas - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis leaders tired of losing businesses to surrounding areas

Leaders of Memphis and Shelby County EDGE, or Economic Development Growth Engine, say big changes could be in store for the PILOT program. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) Leaders of Memphis and Shelby County EDGE, or Economic Development Growth Engine, say big changes could be in store for the PILOT program. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC)- Memphis city leaders say they need a new edge when it comes to PILOT programs.

PILOT stands for Payment in Lieu of Taxes and leaders of the city's economic development agency spent their afternoon before city council members defending the controversial program.

 Some city leaders say they're tired of Memphis losing businesses to surrounding areas.
 
"Companies who relocate in DeSoto County and Horn Lake, Mississippi know full well that those persons who live in Memphis will have to pay payroll tax and state income tax," said Harold Collins, Memphis City Council. 
 
While Collins supports the PILOT program, he says Memphis is now at a competitive disadvantage.
 
During the past 30 years, the PILOT program has given big Memphis businesses big tax breaks. Now, the fear is that Memphis is losing prospective businesses because of lower tax rates in the Mid-South. 
 
Some city council members say they need a better handle on just how much the PILOT program is helping the city.
 
"We've got to know how this is affecting the City of Memphis, especially with the kind of investments we're being asked to make and the investments we've made in the past," said council member Wanda Halbert.
 
Leaders of Memphis and Shelby County EDGE, or Economic Development Growth Engine, say big changes could be in store for the PILOT program.
 
While those changes were not specified Tuesday, some say better communication between city and state leaders needs to happen sooner rather than later.
 
"Let us have a state payroll tax if that makes us economically competitive.  Let us have a state income tax if that makes us economically competitive to keep companies here," Collins added.
 
EDGE president and CEO Reid Dulberger told council members on Tuesday that within the next six to eight weeks, revisions to the PILOT program will be brought back before the council.

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