By BOB STOETZEL
On Thursday, November 8th the Industrial Development Board (IDB) met at the courtroom of the Courthouse. In a move consistent with the way the IDB has been operating since being placed on the board, they have put muscle to their negotiating.
After dealing all summer long with a company that is occupying one of the buildings that the IDB is in control of, the Board has given the county attorney Mike Corley instructions to convey to the company, operating under the name of THC Select, they will either comply with the terms of the lease or they "can get out". You might think that is harsh words for a county whose willingness to bend over backwards to keep any industrial business here in Cannon County would do. Well first you need the background to this story.
What if this company has been doing business in this county since February 2011 and has never paid rent to the county? They have not paid for the electricity that they have used or even water. This company has not paid any personal property taxes since being here according to Donald Preston. There is no one legally able to excuse those taxes. This company, after being addressed by the IDB, finally put the electricity in their name after two years. This is the problem that the IDB has been incurring all summer long.
All of these members of the IDB are newcomers with the exception of Randall Reid. These include Randall Reid, Dean More, Cory Davenport, David Vance, Mindy Gunter, Neal Appelbaum and Doug Bodary. All are professional people. All are dedicated to using the money earned by renting these buildings that the county owns to the advantage of Cannon County in a business-like way.
THC Select took this building two years ago and agreed on the rent which is $5,500.00 a month. The trouble is they never had a viable written lease with the IDB or the County; this was reported to the new IDB that it was a gentleman's agreement between THC and Mike Gannon and the old IDB. Trouble with that is by the law of the state of Tennessee there can be no deal without a signed written lease. The IDB did their homework and found that the company actually owed the IDB $175,000.00 according to Randall Reid. However THC says they don't owe any of that because they had an agreement with the County Executive and the IDB.
This is where the story starts to unravel. This is not the only company that has been doing business with the county that hasn't lived up to their oral lease. PC Disposal just recently rejected an updated lease (written) and moved to Warren County. Their rent was supposed to be $1,500.00 a month. They have been paying $500.00 a month and they have operated in Cannon for four years. But the last four months they had not even paid the $500.00. The IDB made up a new written lease with them and the back pay and the company would not have anything to do with the lease and paid four months back pay ($2,000.00) and left Cannon County lock stock and barrel.
That only leaves THC Select to deal with. The IDB gave them a lease to consider and the company replied with one of its own. Chairman Reid called it "criminal" even to ask something like their lease. Reid said even if they would agree to it they (the IDB) would be guilty of criminal offenses. At the meeting on Thursday, after attorneys for both entities talked it out, the Board have sent a message through Attorney Mike Corley. "Sign the lease or get out" was the comment by member Dean More. Members were heard saying that they were tired of trying to do business with a company that didn't want to do serious negotiations while trying to drag this out until they could find a new building to occupy. If THC doesn't reply soon or by the next meeting of the IDB, the Board will start proceedings to oust them with a detainer warrant.
Under State Law if a committee finds that there are suspicious events and numbers not matching and they believe fraud could be going on, it is their duty to turn their findings over to the Comptroller of the State of Tennessee, which they have decided to do just that. They passed the motion to take all of their findings to the States Comptroller
The Board also discussed with County Attorney Mike Corley the need for the Board to have their own attorney and not one affiliated with other aspects of the county. Corley agreed and this was his last duty for the IDB. The next meeting of the IDB will be in December.