Clark-Shawnee schools won’t oppose new housing development

Members of Clark-Shawnee Local School board of education will not object to a plan to use Tax Increment Financing to cover infrastructure costs for a new Springfield housing development, the district’s superintendent said.

The project calls for a 53-acre housing development on 37 acres of property south of the Tuttle Road Walmart, along with an additional 15-acre tract to the east of the Walmart. It would include more than 230 new houses built in four separate phases.

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The city can approve a proposal with 75 percent of residential property taxes for new homes in the development going to cover infrastructure costs for the development and the remaining 25 percent going to the district for up to 10 years. Anything longer would need approval from Clark-Shawnee’s school board. The district will not lose any revenue from the deal, but will not receive its full share of the property taxes paid by residents living in the development until the 10-year deal expires.

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Superintendent Brian Kuhn said board members spent weeks reviewing how the deal might impact the district, but determined they have little recourse and will not take any action to oppose the development. However, the district did propose language that was adopted into the Ohio School Board Association legislative platform. The language states the OSBA supports legislation that would prohibit a municipality or township in the future from imposing a unilateral tax exemption on a school district.

“The TIF is not our ideal or preferred financial structure for this, but we understand the law and how this project benefits the community,” Kuhn said.

Developers previously told the News-Sun TIF financing is necessary to make the project attractive to investors. Once built, it would be Springfield’s first significant housing development in about two decades.

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Springfield Twp. officials have also raised concerns about the project’s financing. The township would be under a separate TIF proposal for 100 percent for 30 years. Township trustees have said the township doesn’t have a voice on whether to approve the TIF, but could miss out on as much as $2 million in revenue over 30 years under the proposal.

The city is expected to have a first reading on a proposal to approve the TIF financing proposals in early December, said Bryan Heck, Springfield’s deputy city manager. City commissioners could vote on whether to approve the proposals on Dec. 18.

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“In Springfield in general there is a real need for new housing options in our community as we continue to attract workforce and talent for our industries,” Heck said.

The OSBA adopted the new language into its legislative platform at the OSBA capital conference earlier this month, said Will Schatz, a lobbyist for the OSBA. The platform is a document that conveys the OSBA’s position on various issues to lawmakers. It also guides the association’s advocacy efforts.

Schatz said the language adopted includes all tax abatements, not just TIF financing. He said the OSBA believes school districts should have a say in those deals because it impacts a districts finances.

“There are a number of districts throughout the state that are experiencing the same issues Clark-Shawnee is experiencing,” Schatz said.

Kuhn said the new housing development is expected to bring more tax revenue to the school district. He said school board members and district staff reviewed legal and financial issues involved and won’t take any further action following last week’s meeting. He said the district has a responsibility to taxpayers to research what the proposal will mean for the district.

The district receives about $3,100 in property tax revenue from the vacant space now, and estimates it will receive about $115,000 annually once the project is built based on information provided by the project’s developers. Once the TIF expires in 10 years, the district estimated it could receive about $470,000 annually.

“Ultimately, the law allows for this and so if we have a disagreement it’s not with the city or the developers,” Kuhn said of the project’s financing. “We have to work with the legislature to change the law.”

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