Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Experts, not politicians should decide if Bible Park good for area

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To the Editor:

The Fox is out and the hen house is still cackling.

It truly amazes me that local leadership continues to possibly derail the development of Lebanon as sister cities like Murfreesboro, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville and Gallatin are enjoying commercial and retail growth, creating jobs, and tax revenue.

The latest effort from our Lebanon City Council has caused approximately $1.7 million in projected property taxes from inside the proposed Bible Park Complex and $2.4 million in projected property taxes outside the park due to new development to be lost along with a projected $2.9 million yearly in sales tax revenue. Currently the property on which the Bible Park was to be situated produces about $2,300 yearly in property tax revenue.

Also included in the losses to the City of Lebanon are the approximately 2,000 jobs that were projected during construction period of the project plus the 1,000 to 1,200 seasonal jobs and 210 full time positions.

But why did our City Council not let the process, designed and developed to ensure any and all possible risk factors be discovered, analyzed and resolved through the Industrial Development Board (comprised of highly educated, professional business persons and financial experts), take its course? This board did not have the opportunity to do the due diligence because our city council apparently believes it has the expertise to decide everything from city hall.

Being that our city has frozen hiring, seems to be in a budget dilemma And not to speak of this county's inability to build a needed school for the students of Lebanon, I cannot understand why we do not need to explore and secure possibilities such as the Bible Park. It would seem that we have adopted an attitude that we should not give the opportunity for any discovery or more thorough investigation into the proposed Bible Park because we are fine and dandy and have no need for any new proposed tax revenues or jobs. This is the type of leadership that continues to hinder development companies from considering Lebanon as a place to invest and hinders the ability for the city to capture new tax revenues that are needed to provide the services the city provides.

As I have observed during the mayor's transition period into office, him being entirely new to the process, seemingly open to ideas, open to cooperation and communication, he has been met with the same discontentment and arrogance as the previous mayor with some members of the council continuing to try to manage the daily operations of the city through their countless resolutions and ordinances that micro-manages and basically ties the hands of the mayor from performing his elected duties and the management by department heads. I was always taught if the behavior continues after changes are made maybe there is a need for continued changes.

The comment made by Councilor Kevin Huddleston that he and his colleagues knew exactly what they were doing concerning Councilor Alex Buhler's supposedly not previously discussed (Sunshine Law) "drop in" ordinance that all the council was unified and if anyone did not understand they would have spoken up. To me this seems like a pretty large defining moment for economic development in Lebanon for no such discussion to have taken place in a public meeting or was it the council's confidence in their own expertise, education and training in financial management and financial disclosure that gave them the surety to make such a decision and surprisingly have no discussion of the issue?

You know the truth is, who really knew if the Bible Park was a good project for Lebanon? I sure would have liked the opportunity for that question to have been truly answered from the experts and not the politicians.

Larry Hubbard Jr.Lebanon

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