Robert Cooper Jr.

NASHVILLE (Legal Newsline)-Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr. has been asked to determine whether officials in Rutherford County can give taxpayer money to help what some call a religious venture.

In a letter this week to the attorney general, state Rep. Donna Rowland, R-Murfreesboro, asked whether the county can authorize the use of tax-increment financing for the proposed 282-acre Bible Park USA. They hope to open the park in 2010.

The request for an opinion comes because the park's developers wants millions in tax-increment financing to help bankroll the theme park centered on Bible history.

The developers specifically want the county to forgo about $27.9 million in property taxes to pay for bonds to build the Bible Park.

They say that over a 22-year agreement, the county would receive $122 million in sales and property tax revenues.

The Rutherford County Budget Committee is scheduled to consider the question of the property tax TIF at its May 8 meeting.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at

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