WILMINGTON — While acknowledging a need for additional housing, city officials decided to postpone any CRA (Community Reinvestment Area) legislation.
During Thursday’s Wilmington City Council meeting, Councilmember and Judiciary Committee Chair Matt Purkey advised that the committee had met and discussed the issue at its meeting prior to the council.
Purkey said that, given the fact the district’s tax renewal levy failed in Tuesday’s election, “We’ve decided to table that for the time being,” said Purkey. “I know the developers are still trying to evaluate where they’re at and it’s not the right time (for council) to do anything.”
Councilmember Kristi Fickert added the city doesn’t want to send a message they are “anti-development”, but they want to see how they can make it work for both the schools and the other parties.
At the October 7 council meeting, the proposed ordinance failed to get a second reading, with a 4-3 vote against it.
The ordinance would have established a 15-year CRA with 100% exemption — this would have been an extension of the current five-year CRA, also with a 100% exemption.
According to the Ohio Department of Development’s website (development.ohio.gov), a CRA is an “economic development tool administered by municipal and county government that provides real property tax exemptions for property owners who renovate existing or construct new buildings.”
Councilmember Nick Eveland called it a “bad situation” for the school levy to fail, adding, “Obviously we have to be sympathetic to them, but by the same token, school funding is the schools’ issue. City funding is our issue.”
Eveland advised he believes there are better ways to help developers outside of TIFFs and tax abatements.
“Maybe it’s time for us to do some creative thinking,” he said.
He referenced a case in Greenberg, Indiana which decided to try to attract families who work from home. This was the result of many jobs becoming permanent remote work. Eveland one way they did this was by offering $5,000 cash to families for simply moving there and buying a house, along with other perks.
Councilmember Purkey advised they all acknowledge and agree there is a need for housing of all kinds. But now is not the time to ask the schools for a tax abatement.
“It’s just not the right time to put in a request for additional tax abatement until the schools iron out what they’re doing,” said Purkey.