By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
Grove City officials are defending their decision to expand a community reinvestment area.
At the start of the new year, Grove City Council approved legislation to expand the community reinvestment area around Seeds Road, State Route 665, North Meadows Drive, and Haughn Road. A reinvestment area provides property tax exemptions to developers. The property owners are eligible to receive a 10 or 15-year tax abatement for improvements.
At a council meeting later in January, Bob Ruth, a Grove City resident, questioned council’s decision.
“This council’s deference to real estate developers comes at the expense of the common good,” said Ruth.
Some of the properties that surround the expanded community reinvestment area include the First Baptist Church of Grove City, the Buckeye Ranch, and Zuber Crossing LLC. Ruth said he believes these locations are prime real estate options and development would happen naturally without tax giveaways.
According to the legislation passed in early January, due to real and perceived impacts on properties located in proximity to the Franklin County Landfill (along State Route 665), it is necessary to provide economic incentives to encourage desirable development in this geographical area of the city.
Ruth called this portion of the legislation “patently false.”
The concerned resident said some of these properties are at least one mile away from the landfill and there are numerous buffers, including a six-lane highway.
Ruth said the city’s decision of offer this tax break would impact society’s most vulnerable by taking away tax revenue that would otherwise serve the community’s children, disabled, and addicted.
Regarding the buffers around the county landfill, Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said those buffers are physical only. He said there are no buffers for litter created by the landfill and the odor generated.
The mayor went on to defend the legislation and said the city has to offer tax incentives to compete with other jurisdictions for job creation.
“I put this (legislation on the expanded community reinvestment area) forward and I would not retreat from that position,” said Stage.
Grove City Administrator Chuck Boso said most, if not all, of the communities within the state of Ohio offer tax incentives to businesses. He said a 15-year tax abatement is a short time for a community.
“It’s a good investment,” he said.
Boso said income tax generates 85 cents out of every dollar for the city’s general fund.
“Jobs are essential,” said Boso. “Without incentives for businesses, the city would not be competitive or successful.”
The only council member who voted against the expanded community reinvestment area in early January was Christine Houk, who said there were pieces of the legislation that she could not support.
City officials used the Walmart Distribution Center as an example of why abatements work in the area.
Walmart Distribution was under a 15-year tax abatement because it was located within a community reinvestment area. The city went without about $6.6 million in real estate taxes during the abatement period. After the 15 years, the center has generated about $13 million in real estate taxes for Grove City.
“The city was competing with numerous communities for Walmart,” said Stage. “I do not think they would have come to the city without a tax abatement.”
According to city officials, 40 abatements will be expiring from now through 2026, totaling more than $56 million.