Reynoldsburg council discusses tax agreement with schools

Although it has been in the works for some time, the new Reynoldsburg City Council and administration is taking its first glimpse at a tax increment financing (TIF) and economic development reimbursement agreement designed to meet the needs of the proposed new Reynoldsburg high school.

During the June 2 meeting of the Reynoldsburg City Council finance committee, attorney Glen Dugger, of Smith & Hale, explained how the TIF was worked out in 2006 during the previous administration.

"This legislation is the culmination of something we have been working on for a very long time," Dugger explained. "This is hopefully another step in the property annexed into the city of Reynoldsburg."

The agreement affects the new high school site on the east side of Summit Road and includes an arrangement to provide sewer and water service on the 70-acre site.

Dugger said the cost will be split three ways between the school district, the city and the current property owner. The city’s share will be $35,000.

What is currently in effect at the site is a residential TIF, Dugger said as he brought the new council up-to-date.

"Prior to 2006 you could do a TIF for residential and commercial development," Dugger said. However, a change in state law no longer allows this. "It imposed more restrictive provisions for residential use. This was introduced because in other parts of the state it has been abused."

Although residential TIFs are no longer permitted, it is allowed in this case because it has already been approved, Dugger explained.

"The school district still receives all the money it is supposed to as a consequence of this TIF," he said.

Council President William Hills said it was his understanding that the TIF was originally intended for commercial and residential development – not a school.

Dugger concurred, and said plans for the land have changed since then due to lesser demands for housing.

"There isn’t quite the urgency as there was three to four years ago with the residential market the way it is," he said. "At the time we passed the TIF, the school wasn’t a player at the time."

He continued, "The school district had been looking for another high school site for ages." When it was approved, Dugger noted, "The schools were really not focused on this."

In fact, the TIF was intended to help improve Summit Road, Dugger noted.

"The idea behind the TIF was that it would provide the funding to help straighten out Summit Road," he said. "That was the primary purpose for establishing the TIF in the fall of 2006."

Although straightening the road is still on the agenda, the first priority is extending water and sewer lines to the site.

"This document neither requires or eliminates (straightening the road)," Dugger said.

Hills thanked Dugger for his insight and said council will be taking a closer look at the issue during the coming weeks.

"There’s a little more background and history we need to look at," he said. "It’s nice for everyone else to get up to speed before we start looking at this."

Council agreed to hold the discussion for two more weeks and revisit the issue at the next Finance Committee meeting.

In other news, the committees:

•Heard a report from Police Chief David Suciu regarding a new liquor permit for El Manjar de Los Portales 1 Ltd., 6006 E. Livingston Ave. "We found no reason to appeal this permit request," Suciu said.

•Agreed to send several pieces of legislation to council for third reading. They include amending various sections of the stormwater service fee crediting mechanism and accepting various easements from Distribution Land Corp. and Tata Corp.

•Tabled a resolution to oppose legislation pending in the Ohio General Assembly seeking to eliminate Mayor’s Courts in Ohio.

•Held legislation waiving competitive bidding for various exempted contracts and expenditures over $10,000.

•Agreed to send forward legislation allowing City Auditor Richard Harris to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in processing paperwork for reimbursement to the city for snow removal from March 7-9. Harris said FEMA will reimburse the city $27,000 for costs related to overtime, salt and administrative time related to the storm. "It’s a pretty generous offer and it’s better than nothing," Harris commented.

•Agreed to allow council to consider approving the final resolution for the Ohio Department of Transportation State Route 256 resurfacing project and appropriation of $72,912, the city’s share of funds. Pam Boratyn, director of the Safety/Service Department, asked council to pass the measure on emergency. "This is our share of the cost of the resurfacing," she explained. The project should be complete by the end of the year, with the curbs finished by July. The 1.128-mile project affects S.R. 256 from approximately Main Street to the Fairfield County line.

•Agreed to send the 2009 tax budget forward for its first reading. "We have come up with a set of what we believe are fairly accurate five-year projections," Harris said.

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