Report, Auditor’s Online Hub Focuses on Columbus Tax Incentive Results
Want to know if a development in Franklin County received government tax breaks and if it actually created the jobs, payroll, and investments promised?
Now there’s a quick way to do this via a revamped website – with an interactive map – and a new report released this month by Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano.
“Any member of the public can come out and see across the county what tax incentives are being done in their community,” Stinziano said. “You can fly over, watch a specific project and links to economic development officials in local jurisdictions. … We do everything we can to hold people accountable, that promises made are kept.
As auditor, Stinziano heads the Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC), a panel required under state law and includes officials from county, municipal or township authorities that grant tax exemptions, school boards affected by the agreements and others.
Cities, towns, townships and counties establish and approve tax exemption agreements. The TIRCs meet annually to review whether job creation, payroll, capital investment and other requirements of these agreements are met and to make recommendations for continuation, modification or cancellation of the agreements. incentives.
In Franklin County, exams are typically held between May and August, before the September 1 deadline required by state law. Stinziano released his detailed report from the latest review this week.
Following:Franklin County Commissioners Call for Tax Sharing on Three TIF Residential Neighborhoods
Discounts and other financial incentives used by public officials to attract commitments for new or expanding developments have sparked much public debate.
Business groups and others generally support tax exemptions, saying they are necessary to compete with other areas working to attract economic development projects.
Nate Green, executive director of the Ohio Jobs Alliance, said this year in testimony to the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee that “property tax reductions can alleviate the high tax and real estate costs of l ‘Ohio and stimulate not only job creation, but also local tax revenues.
Opponents argue that the tax breaks are not having the intended effect and instead take away the necessary revenues for schools and local governments.
“Not all of the tax cuts and tax cuts in Ohio have boosted the state’s economy. Job growth in Ohio has been slower than the national average over the past 15 years, ”said Wendy Patton, senior project manager at Policy Matters Ohio, a left-wing think tank, in testimony this year. to the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee.
“All of these tax cuts drained resources from neighborhoods and communities in Ohio that never recovered from the 2008 recession.”
Stinziano said it was not the role of the TIRC to take sides.
“The TIRC is not here to say, ‘Good project. Bad project, “but to continue to make sure that we are transparent and that we force people to respect the terms of the original agreement,” he said.
Each year, the TIRC publishes a report summarizing the Tax Abatement and Tax Increase Funding (TIF) agreements in place in Franklin County, along with details on the status of each.
The review covers Community Reinvestment Zones and Enterprise Zones, two programs that exempt from property tax the value of new construction or building improvements in specified areas.
TIF districts, meanwhile, are planning future increases in tax revenue for roads, street lighting, and other infrastructure improvements made in an area to spur development.
Details on the incentives are open for public scrutiny, Stinziano said, and are much easier to access on the revamped. website.
“We wanted to make the information transparent and accessible,” he said. “We’ve heard a lot of people asking about tax incentives across the county. … Our goal is to update (and) make sure that the information is accessible (and) so that people understand that our community continues to be very active when it comes to tax incentives.
Not all of the projects reviewed this year have met their job creation, payroll or other commitments, many due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Examples include a bowling alley that fell short of payroll and an elderly care center that couldn’t find enough candidates to fill the vacancies, according to Lane Newcome, tax incentive team leader and TIRC representative for the county auditor’s office.
The Franklin County Auditor’s Office does not track how often reviews result in recommendations to change or terminate agreements. Newcome noted that most of the cuts meet or exceed their agreements.
A total of 25 municipalities and townships had active tax incentive agreements monitored by the TIRC as part of this year’s report.
This year’s totals included 294 scaled-down projects, covering 3,925 plots that are part of the community reinvestment zones and 54 plots that are part of the enterprise zones.
Franklin County Community Reinvestment Areas properties had a reduced value of over $ 4.2 billion,with about $ 111 million in taxes that were not collected under agreements with local governments. Properties in corporate zones in the county had a reduced value of approximately $ 308 million, with a tax loss of nearly $ 8.3 million.
In total, the scaled-down projects accounted for 41,391 jobs created or retained, a reported payroll of over $ 1.8 billion and a total real estate investment of around $ 2 billion.
The 2021 report also covered 242 TIF projects which included 22,081 plots in total, with around $ 109 million in tax revenue diverted to improving infrastructure.
(For reference, there are almost 440,000 separate plots in Franklin County.)
The TIRC 2021 report also provides information on projects by municipality or canton. For example, there were six Community Reinvestment Zones and 43 Corporate Zones in the City of Columbus, with an estimated value totaling approximately $ 810 million, a reduced value of approximately $ 456 million, and estimated taxes lost.this year nearly $ 12.6 million.
These projects created or retained 14,065 jobs for a payroll of around $ 857 million and a total real estate investment of nearly $ 779 million, according to the TIRC report.
Additionally, there were 96 TIF projects in the city, with over $ 43 million in taxes diverted to infrastructure costs.
In November 2020, Columbus City Council extended the tax incentive agreements it created in 1996 to help subsidize the construction of the Easton and Polaris shopping complexes for an additional 30 years. Both agreements were due to expire in 2026, 30 years after their initial creation to help divert property tax money generated by projects to build infrastructure, such as roads, sewers and utilities, around shopping malls.
The new TIF agreements extended the incentives until 2056 to fund additional public infrastructure “that should be needed” for future construction of businesses at the sites.
Easton’s TIF, which was then generating around $ 7.5 million a year, requires schools in Columbus City and the Gahanna-Jefferson School District to get all the tax breaks they would otherwise get in the absence of the TIF , which makes them whole. The Polaris TIF, which generates $ 4.2 million a year, is also calling for the restoration of the local school district of Olentangy.
“These aren’t small numbers, by any means,” Stinziano said of the jobs, payroll and investment results. “Many other communities would like to be in the position where they have to compete to maintain, retain and create jobs.”
The auditor’s website includes a map with the location of each project considering tax breaks that lets you skim through them and get links to local ordinances and other reports with full job details. , payroll and investments at each site.
“Is this information that you might have tried to unearth yourself otherwise?” Maybe, ”said Monica Moran, spokesperson for the auditor’s office. “But it hasn’t been compiled in such an easy-to-follow way before.”
To view the new website, go to https://franklin-county-tax-incentives-fca.hub.arcgis.com/