The Lebanon City Council is considering tax relief for the local Kroger as it sets its sights on expansion.
"They're going to expand 40,000 feet," Lebanon Mayor Bernie Ash said at the council's work session Thursday, noting that the store has asked both the city and county for tax incentives. "They're going to expand gas pumps also, probably down to the road with it. If we did anything at all, what I would recommend is a tax freeze where they're at now that wouldn't go up for five or seven years."
Kroger's Nashville Division Corporate Communications Manager Melissa Eads confirmed that the franchise hopes to expand its Lebanon location, but a timetable and floor plan have not been set.
"We still have several approval phases to go through internally, along with the steps we'll need to take working with the city," she said. "As that process moves along, more information will become available."
Ash said the store has projected an additional $1.5 million in annual payroll and 50 new jobs.
"This is the first time they've ever asked for anything like that," he said. "They've been good business partners for a long time."
Ward 4 Councilor Chris Crowell said the economic
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impact of an expanded Kroger location should offset any losses from a tax freeze or abatement.
"We're both getting the benefit of their expansion," he said. "Both through, ultimately, sales increasing, payment on property tax and payroll."
Finance Commissioner Stuart Lawson said that since abatements and freezes are handled differently, the council would need to consider that when making a decision.
"If they expanded, they would have to pay the taxes and then we'd refund it back if we're abating part of the tax," he said. "With a freeze, you're leaving it on."
Lebanon Police Chief Mike Justice also attended the meeting to request the council approve the purchase of a software license for body cam data transfer, noting that the department is currently having data throttled.
"Basically, we are transferring so much data now with our body cams that Microsoft has put us on lockdown," he said. "Over the holidays, we couldn't even pull up some of our stuff. We need a software license to be able to transfer data -- it's not a matter of storing, but transferring data to and from the server."
So far, the department has found three options for a license, the cheapest being a one-time fee of $11,000. They are also working to delete footage from several years ago to free up space.
"Everything we do (is) on camera," Justice said. "That's a plus. So this should hopefully be a one-time fee, and not something that we'll have to do again. These body cams capture everything. They capture inside houses, they capture radio traffic in the car, so when an attorney comes to get footage it has to be redacted. We have about three people right now working to pull hours of video off."
The Lebanon City Council's next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 7, at the city administration building on 200 N. Castle Heights Ave.