Rhea Co. Executive makes plea to TVA - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Rhea Co. Executive makes plea to TVA

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RHEA COUNTY, TN (WRCB)- Two county officials in Tennessee are making a plea for TVA to back down on marina operation fees. The Rhea County executive and Meigs County mayor went before the TVA board Thursday to plead their case.

"This used to be a booming place," Rhea County Executive George Thacker says.

A sign says, "Thanks for visiting Watts Bar Marina and Resort" but there isn't much there.

"You go on the web site and see that you want to come camping here or buy gas. It's not here anymore," says Thacker.

The TVA web site also says there should be a restaurant at the marina too, but that was recently torn down, the tracks still in the dirt. The site was last updated in 2004 and it is not guaranteed to be accurate.

"Rhea County's been through, 'don't eat the fish, don't swim in the lake'."

Thacker says the Watts Bar area is still feeling the effects from the 2008 ash spill, along with Meigs and Roane counties.

Now he says TVA is wanting to increase marina operation fees. He says that is bad news, especially with Rhea and Meigs not getting any help, while Roane got $24 million in restitution.

"After all this. We've been through all these battles. Roane County gets all the money. Rhea and Meigs get nothing," Thacker says. "And then they're going to add this 5 percent tax in this economy?"

He says the 'mom and pop' marina operators will suffer.

"I talked to one today. She actually said it would kill her business. You can't pass anymore taxes," says Thacker.

In the case of the resort, TVA issued a statement last year on why it was being torn down.

It says the licensed operators were not holding up their end of the deal, saying, the facilities were "neglected" and fell into "disrepair." As a result, it "revoked the license and limited access to the area."

Thacker says it goes beyond that, saying TVA is staffing the marina at Douglas Lake in Roane County, while trying to shut down Sand Island, a popular recreation spot, citing costs.

"Why do they keep shutting things down in Rhea County when they say they don't make exceptions?" 

To clarify, a TVA spokesperson says TVA does not have the power to 'tax' but tells Channel 3 it did revise its commercial recreation pricing policy in 2010, which resulted in some operators paying a higher price than in previous years.

Thacker says he is meeting with state leaders to discuss proposed changes.

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