Please, mayor, say it ain’t so.

In the wake of the release of the most insightful, thorough report on tax incentives for business ever written, Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton calls for creation of a committee.

It’s not really the mayor’s fault. It’s just the nature of the beast. Why implement something when you can study it for months in hopes that the momentum behind it dissipates and no political price has to be paid?

Mayor Wharton’s position is that a committee of government and business leaders now needs to be created to develop an economic development plan for Memphis and Shelby County. The absence of such a plan has been the worst-kept secret in Memphis, and addressing it years ago would have prepared us to move ahead with dispatch. Instead, we appear to be flat-footed in response to the consultants’ call for overhauling the city-county PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-payments) program whose largesse is largely responsible for waiving $60 million in taxes (that’s this year’s total waived taxes, not the cumulative total of waived taxes over the past 18 years).

The report is so well-founded and so to the point that its implementation should begin immediately. This time, there is a sense at the legislative level that the public has had enough, and this seems to be one issue that is volatile enough that it will not fade from the collective consciousness.

In this instance, it’s Memphis City Council that’s showing the appropriate sense of urgency for changes in the program, with one of its committees already voting to enact the recommended changes. While Mayor Wharton (and Mayor Herenton if he agrees to his county counterpart’s suggestion) may appoint a committee to study the study, the actual authority for tax freezes rests with City Council and the Shelby County Board of Commissioners, and while a mayoral study committee contemplates what to do, the legislative bodies could be busy doing it.

In other words, there is a long-standing need for a real economic development plan for our community, with an arsenal of various incentives, but there is no reason that it should slow down in making the changes in the PILOT program.

Every month that passes is just one more month that the various boards grant more tax waivers.