MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A former Shelby County Commissioner is speaking out after Swedish company Electrolux announced last week it was leaving Memphis.
Wyatt Bunker was the county’s only “no” vote on the plan in 2011 to bring Electrolux to town.
Bunker said he believed back then that the Electrolux deal was bad for taxpayers.
Electrolux announced it was leaving Memphis in a consolidation plan and taking hundreds of jobs with it.
This week the State of Tennessee confirmed Electrolux would not have to pay back $100 million in state incentives because the agreement lacked claw back provisions.
“I thought the incentive play was too rich,” Bunker said.
Bunker said he’s not surprised at the turn of events, and he felt then the deal was too good to be true.
“Back then there was just this focus on doing whatever was necessary it seemed to get those jobs to Shelby County,” Bunker said.
The EDGE board, created in 2012, now only offers PILOT agreements with claw back clauses.
After the closure announcement, Electrolux said it will voluntarily release its PILOT and pay full taxes on the property. The Memphis facility will shut down for good in 2020.
Wednesday, county assessor Melvin Burgess told commissioners that his office has determined the site is actually undervalued.
“The county's losing dollars,” Burgess said.
Burgess said he believes the county left even more money on the table in underpaid taxes when Electrolux got $140 million in state, city, and county incentives to locate its plant in Memphis.
He said a focus on residential properties and a staffing shortage under his predecessor are to blame for an undervaluing of the Electrolux site near the Mississippi River.
Burgess told commissioners the land itself is appraised at roughly $40 million, but the figure does not include the building or equipment, which could've sent the number to upwards of $100 million.
“We want to send a team out to make sure we do our due diligence to make sure that what is in there is mentioned and it’s going to be on the valuation moving forward,” Burgess said.
Burgess said a team from his office should be at the site Thursday.
In the meantime, The Tennessean in Nashville reports a bill has been filed in the general assembly that would publicize the state incentives companies get.
That information is now restricted per state law.