The London Board of Education unanimously voted on Aug. 20 to approve Stanley Electric’s proposal to expand its operations and also to move forward with the extension of Keny Boulevard to State Route 38 with the resulting tax money.
Stanley Electric wants to expand its operations by 300,000 square feet to make room for new equipment at its facility. Through a negotiations process, an agreement was drafted that gives 100 percent tax abatement on half of the new space and tax money on the other half will be redirected into Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) for $182,000 a year for up to 25 years. The money from the TIF will pay for the road extension.
"I consider this an investment in the future of our city. The extension of Keny Boulevard may accelerate growth in that area from Lafayette out to 38. If that happens, our tax base grows, lessening the burden on all of us," London City
School Superintendent Steve Allen said in a statement.
While all the school board members comments were positive towards the Stanley Electric project, not all were unanimous in their reasons for approving the project.
"The state has changed legislation so schools cannot receive this money and that’s the reason I’m voting for it," said board member Nancy Smith. "If we would receive it without taking it out of our foundation money, I would vote against it. I want to see Keny built more than anything else, but our main function is to the students of this district and because we’re not getting any more money, we may as well use it. It’ll take a load off of [Route] 42 every time we all drive through there."
The legislation Smith referred to is called taxable valuation for operating expenses of the school, according to London City Auditor Jim Williamson. Under this legislation, the more the estimated marketable value of property values increase, the less money the schools get back from the state.
"The city auditor has so much valued, and if it goes up, the amount the State School Foundation sends to the schools goes down," said Williamson.
When asked what happens next, Mayor Dave Eades said London City Council will hold a hearing on this issue on Aug. 28, but before plans can move forward, they still have to wait to hear the decision from Tolles Career and Technical center, unless Tolles waives its right to a hearing on the subject.
"The result of this is it’s going to be a win-win situation by getting Keny Boulevard built; it will relieve a lot of congestion and give the school district a way to relieve traffic after ball games and after schools out, so I think it’s a win-win for everybody," said Eades.
Sean Hughes, executive director of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, said if the proposal is approved, the project will then be reviewed by the Ohio Department of Development and that could take a couple of weeks, but it should not delay the ground-breaking scheduled on Sept. 10.
"The Ohio Department of Development will look at the time table the company is using and they’ll try to work with that, it shouldn’t disrupt Stanley’s development period. The city’s actually submitted the application onto the Ohio Department of Development coinciding with other departments’ approval, so that might actually be in the works,’ said Hughes.
Hughes said the part that the city council approves is the Community Reinvestment Area, or the CRA, which covers the abatement portion of the taxes for Stanley Electric. Hughes explained the part of Stanley Electric taxes not covered by the CRA is included in the TIF.
"It’s definitely a good thing, it is a prime example of not only benefiting the company, but also benefiting the community, mainly because the company is going to save money on taxes but the community is getting a roadway out of it through the TIF," said Hughes.