Cullman City Council agrees to $800K in cash incentives for Academy Sports + Outdoors

W.C. Mann

L-R: Councilman John Cook, Academy Alabama Real Estate Manager Joe Turner, Academy Senior Real Estate Manager Marc Millis, Council President Pro-Tem Jenny Folsom, Councilman Andy Page and Councilman Clint Hollingsworth

CULLMAN – In its regular meeting Monday evening, the Cullman City Council agreed to offer Academy Sports + Outdoors financial incentives of up to $800,000 over the first eight years the company’s store operates in Cullman.  Mayor Woody Jacobs and Council President Garlan Gudger were absent (both were out of town); the vote to approve was unanimous among council members present.

The incentive is offered under Alabama Constitution Amendment 772.  Project Attorney Trey Hill explained that the amendment “authorizes the City of Cullman to lend its credit to, or grant things of value to a private enterprise, provided that it promotes economic development within the city.”

Academy plans to construct a 62,000-square-foot facility on an 8-acre lot on Lee Avenue, with an $8 million capital investment.  The company predicts that the store will create 100 new jobs and generate $12 million in sales per year, resulting in approximately $270,000 in sales tax paid to Cullman annually.  Business licensing and other costs will add to that amount.

In return, the City agreed to grant two incentives to Academy:

  • Up to $800,000 in cash payments over an eight-year period.  The dollar amount is a ceiling, and the total could be lower.  The amount paid each year will be the lower of $110,000 or half of the 1.5 percent sales tax Academy will pay to Cullman.  The amount will be tied to the amount of sales tax paid.  The incentive payment amounts to a partial rebate of sales tax paid, and payments will cease after eight years.
  • The City will run a 6-inch sanitary sewer line to the northern boundary of the site, and remove a storm pipe southwest of Lee Avenue.

Certain protections for the City are built into the plan:

  • If Academy does not perform, Cullman will not be required to make payments.
  • Academy will have to submit a payment request at least 30 days before payment is expected.
  • Money will not be handed over to Academy until after the company has made its tax payment each year.
  • Academy will be required to begin construction within 360 days of the passage of the agreement.

According to Academy’s Senior Real Estate Manager Marc Millis, who flew in from Texas for the council meeting, the company plans to close on the property by the end of April, and will begin construction in February 2018 with a target opening date in September 2018.

In other business, the council also approved the following measures (from the agenda):

  • A request from Sewer Superintendent Chris Freeman to purchase from a city bid 10 flow meters from ADS Environmental Services in the budgeted amount of $52,000.
  • A resolution to award the bid for one or more traffic signal preemption systems to the lowest responsible bidder, Temple, Inc., in the budgeted amount of $4,571.42 per system.  The systems will allow firefighters to control traffic lights remotely while enroute to emergencies, to stop cross traffic flow.

The council also approved two board appointments:

  • Police Chief Kenny Culpepper was reappointed to the City Alcohol Review Committee.
  • Wes Moore was reappointed to Medical Clinic Board No. 2.

The Cullman City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday evenings of each month at Cullman City Hall.  The public is invited to attend.


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