Record year for Forge tax revenue

Gross receipts approach $1B, mayor says
Feb. 21, 2013 @ 11:45 PM

The city had its most lucrative year on record in 2012, Mayor David Wear said in his State of the City talk on Thursday.

"We had a phenomenal year last year," he said. "Every business sector was up."

Gross receipts in Pigeon Forge were $905.8 million last year, Wear told members of the Pigeon Forge Hospitality Association, which met at the Holiday Inn. The previous record of $872.5 million was set in 2007, before the recession.

"If we get to one billion a year while I'm still in office, I'll get up here and dance a jig in front of you," Wear said.

Gross receipts for lodging businesses were $147 million last year, Wear said, and $145 million for amusement businesses.

The mayor also gave updates on several city projects.

Wear Farm City Park will open in March, complete with five lighted baseball and softball fields. "Kids will love it, and traveling ball teams will love it," he said.

The half-mile extension of Jake Thomas Road is due to be completed in March 2014. "We'll extend the existing road up to the top of the hill," Wear said. "The road will consist of two lanes and a turning lane."

The contract for the new wastewater treatment plant is out for bid, and construction should begin in early April on the site of the old city park. The plant "allows the city to grow its vistor and resident population," Wear said. "Completion is scheduled for 2016, and [planners] project 50 years of service."

The plant "will utilize the latest odor-control technology," Wear said.

LeConte Center, the city's 232,000-square-foot events facility, will open in September.

The city has entered into a pre-development agreement with the company that would design a Cal Ripken-themed youth park, Wear said. If it is built, the facility "has the potential for $40 million in economic impact and hundreds of jobs."

Car shows once held at the currently shuttered Grand Resort Hotel will stay in Pigeon Forge at least through this year, Wear said. "We are working with them to keep them in town." The hotel and other properties once owned by Ken Seaton are being redeveloped, he added.

Pigeon Forge has grown because business and government work together, Wear said.

"That's the vision we have. Does it work all the time, everywhere? No. But it sure has worked here, and made us prosperous."

kburns@themountainpress.com