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Cincinnati Council's TIF Announcement 'Slap In The Face' To School Board Members

west end
Travis Estell
Flickr Creative Commons
The West End, shown in 2018, is one of the 15 neighborhoods Cincinnati City Council recently deemed eligible for TIF benefits.

For months, the city and school board have been struggling to get on the same page about the renewal tax abatement agreement that expires in seven weeks. 

City council says money from the state fulfills the district's budget. Cincinnati Public Schools disagrees.

The parties agreed to the 1999 tax abatement as a result of building Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium. CPS says it is currently losing tax revenue because of the agreement, but the city argues the district's net revenues have gone up because the abatements work to increase funding from the state.

Last week, council announced 15 more neighborhoods will be eligible to become tax increment financing (TIF) districts, which sets aside some property tax revenue for public projects in those neighborhoods. 

This decision may have tested the board's patience.

Board Member Eve Bolton says the city is pitting neighborhoods and schools against each other. "It's interesting to me that anybody that wants to be mayor of this city can not do something about this," Bolton says.

CPS projects it'll have almost 500 new students next school year, which will be the eighth year in a row the district has grown.

The school board says it's trying to keep up with growth while being on a fixed budget from the state.

Board President Carolyn Jones was originally against approaching council publicly but now says the board needs to illustrate the importance of an abatement agreement. "Especially because the recent decision on the TIFs," she says. "I agree it's a slap in the face."

The board says it will take its concerns about the tax abatement agreement to city council members this week.