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Reinvestment Tool Or Shortchanger? Tax Abatement Expires At End Of 2019

Bill Rinehart
Tax abatements get partial credit for encouraging reinvestment in neighborhoods including Over-the-Rhine.

Cincinnati Public Schools will be taking a good long look at the deal that has helped economic development in Cincinnati, but some say has also shortchanged the district. The tax abatement agreement of 1999 expires at the end of this year.

CPS spokeswoman Lauren Worley says the board knows abatements are an important part of the city's economic development strategy, but it's estimated the district has passed up millions in property taxes.

"CPS estimates that the district has forgone over $100 million in taxes between 2012 and 2017 alone," she says. "Additionally, that original agreement indicated the city would pay for school resources officers, which are Cincinnati Police officers, school nurses and school crossing guards."

Worley says in 1999, the district had a lot fewer students than it does today: around 25,000 compared with nearly 36,000 now. "The city as well was looking at opportunities to bring economic investment, particularly to the area of Downtown, Over-the-Rhine and beyond. And we've seen incredible opportunities here. It really started with the development of new stadiums at The Banks."

The district and the city have until the end of the year to renegotiate the agreement, Worley says. "If the 1999 tax abatement agreement is not renewed before the end of this year, existing law will be the law of the land. The existing tax policies for community reinvestment act areas as well as TIF (tax increment financing) areas in the city that will be the law that governs how those developers are taxed."

Worley says she believes all involved parties want to come to an understanding before the end of the year.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.