Does Costco deserve $1M in tax breaks?

Sep 26, 2019 at 10:09 am by Michelle Willard

Costco promised nearly $1M in tax breaks

A few years ago I wrote an article about how Rutherford County uses tax incentives to guide job growth in the local economy.

I talked to members of the Industrial Development Board about how tax breaks can be used to attract high-paying tech and advanced manufacturing jobs.

They also said Rutherford County has never giving and would never give a tax break to a retail company because we have plenty of that. There's no need to entice them here.

Then, lo and behold, the news comes out that the IDB is willing to give Costco almost $1 million in tax abatements in exchange for 225 jobs that pay between $49,920 to $60,000.

And the Costco deal hinges on a plan for the city to extend Beasie Road from Warrior Drive near New Salem Pike to where the old Racquet Club on River Rock Boulevard, creating a more direct route to I-24. The road project would include a bridge over I-24 and the Stones River.

The new road is for yet another bad planning decision, an aerospace factory next to the Stones River Greenway and houses on River Rock Boulevard but that's a soapbox for another day.

How much is that new road going to cost?

The city (read taxpayers) is going to be on the hook for millions of dollars for two project that: 1. Don't deserve a tax break (i.e., Costco) and 2. Is in the wrong place for a factory.

Just like so many other people, I think Costco is a great idea but tax breaks for a national retailer (who will hurt the bottom lines of many mam-and-pop shops) is a bad idea for the local economy.

IDB Chairman Bill Jones said he thinks that "on a $1 million abatement to collect $12 million to $20 million in taxes is clearly a worthy project."

But is the trade off that clear? There will be a larger negative impact on the local economy by this project. Just think of the impact to property values in the Cason Lane area. I doubt being next to a factory and a big box retailer will improve home values. Plus the cost of the new road and the impact on local businesses.

This isn't 2008, and we don't need the jobs so badly we have to bribe a retail store to open here.

This project begs so many questions that have plagued development projects in Murfreesboro recently, the foremost being isn't there a better place for it?

The Swanson property on NW Broad Street next to International Paper have been open for years (despite an auto parts supplier wanting to build there). Seriously, it's empty and there's already a great road right next to it.

Further, the old Racquet Club lot is too close to the existing Sam's Club for another discount store.

They don't need to encourage more development in the already over-packed Cason Lane area.

It's like the Murfreesboro City Council doesn't know anything about city planning.


Sections: Business