Creating a TIF caused a tiff between government officials and resident Jeffrey Bond as the Canal Winchester Village Council approved a tax increment financing (TIF) plan for the area where a new Meijer store and out lots are under construction.
The action came at council’s Dec. 17 meeting and followed a letter from the Canal Winchester school district stating their legal representative found, aside from a few comments/suggestions regarding language, everything to be in order. The area is also the site of a proposed medical complex in partnership between Mount Carmel and the Fairfield Medical Center.
The TIF tiff
"The TIF is a tax giveaway," alleged Bond, prior to hinting at the threat of a recall effort. "It might be called financing for you, but I call it corporate welfare."
Despite Bond’s allegations, Council Vice President Bobbie Mershon said she had information proving the TIF agreement was beneficial for both the village and the school district.
"At the last council meeting I was threatened with a recall if I sponsored this," said Mershon prior to voting. "It is important to the school for money and it’s important to us as taxpayers. As far as the hospital goes, the office will bring in big tax dollars for us. This is an important thing for the village and if someone wants to recall me over this, go ahead."
When asked about the hospital and the TIF, Law Director Gene Hollins said, as plans move further along in the process, the agreement can be renegotiated and expanded to include the medical complex. Hollins reported only the Meijer site was voted on because its valuation was about to go on the tax rolls and the emergency language clause was enacted because of the upcoming tax valuation.
What’s a TIF?
A TIF is an infrastructure economic development tool designed to provide a mechanism for funding infrastructure improvements directly benefiting commercial development leading to economic development. Under the terms of a TIF, a property owner is required to make payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) in an amount equal to the real property taxes that would have been payable if the property owner had not received the TIF exemption.
PILOTs paid by property owners are deposited into a special TIF fund and used to pay the costs of infrastructure improvements directly benefiting the property. The exemption only relates to the increased value of the land and new buildings. Real property taxes continue to be collected and distributed to county, township, municipality, school, and special districts.
Other CW news
•Attorney and resident Mike Vasko asked council to reconsider redevelopment plans for West Columbus Street, which he called a "major mistake."
"There’s not a traffic problem," asserted Vasko. "This is historical community. This is not a thoroughfare. It was not meant to be a heavy traffic district. This is not a street that will be backed-up with traffic. Yet, they want to push traffic spacing into the tree line.
"It’s a greater than 50 percent loss of trees to the detriment of taxpayers living there. It’s not progress. It’s going the wrong way only to encourage people to drive faster."
Vasko said his neighbors expressed concern over the potential expansion of the street. He said West Columbus Street is shaded and nice for walking. If the street is expanded, Vasko said sidewalks would be located closer to the street and less pedestrian friendly.
"I implore you to reconsider what you are doing," Vasko continued. "You do not have to encroach on the tree line."
•Main Street Canal Winchester Executive Director John Garrett said he recently accepted an award on behalf of the organization at a Heritage Ohio conference. Main Street Canal Winchester was one of 16 communities honored for being in the Main Street program for five years or more and received an Outstanding Community Revitalization Award.
"This is truly an award for the entire community," said Garrett during his remarks to the council. "Now more than ever Main Street Canal Winchester needs your support to make Canal Winchester great place to work, shop, and invest."