Cincinnati City Council has approved creating 15 new tax increment financing (TIF) districts that city officials say will benefit those city neighborhoods.
Once implemented, as home and business values rise in these districts, the additional property tax money generated is set aside for public projects to benefit the neighborhoods.
The decision came even after a couple dozen speakers spoke out for and against the districts.
Supporters say the TIFs bring needed public improvements to some areas of the city.
Opponents argue the city needs to do an audit of the current TIF districts and provide information on how those funds are being spent. Some council members endorsed an audit of the existing TIF districts.
Opponents also argue the new TIF districts will take needed property tax revenues away from the Cincinnati Public Schools and other agencies that rely on property tax levies for their funding.
The new TIF districts are:
- West End
- Pleasant Ridge
- Mt. Auburn
- Eastern River
- College Hill
- Westwood Boudinot
- Mt. Airy
- Camp Washington
- Spring Grove Village
- South Fairmount
- South Cumminsville
- North Fairmount
"The net result of opposing these TIF districts is to keep the poor poor," said Mayor John Cranley. "It's to keep neighborhoods back. It's to divert money from low income neighborhoods to wealthy neighborhoods. That's literally what happens if these neighborhoods don't get TIF districts."
Council approved the new districts by a 7-1 vote. Council Member Tamaya Dennard voted against all of them except the one for the West End, which she said had the support of the community and came to her with the proposal.
"We’re asking taxpayers to trust us with this tool," Dennard said. "And the greatest complication of that is they've trusted us for a long time and look at the city that we have. We have incredible amounts of poverty, incredible amounts of disparity. So what are we going to do different?"
City officials had presented information on the new TIF districts to a council committee last month.
"It's not a tax abatement," said Phil Denning, the city's director of community and economic development. "It's a tool that's available to help basically give a neighborhood some resources and make improvements that they feel like fit their vision for their neighborhood."
Right now, the city has 20 TIF districts that were created in 2002 and 2005. The city had not established any new districts since 2005 because officials believed state law prevented the creation of any new districts.
But now after working with the West End, who made a request to become a TIF district to create housing, the city has done more research and determined it is feasible to create additional TIF districts that met the requirements of state law.
"The administration is recommending that all 15 TIF districts be put into place prior to the end of 2019 as the triennial property reassessments is ongoing, so that any property increases resulting from the investments in these districts may create increments available for public infrastructure or housing needs with the TIF districts in the 2020 tax year," the memo said.
The city's current TIF districts include: Downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Carthage, Walnut Hills, East Walnut Hills, Clifton Heights, Corryville, Bond Hill, Evanston, West Price Hill, East Price Hill, Lower Price Hill, Sedamsville, Westwood, Madisonville, Oakley and Avondale.