By JOY BROWN
By JOY BROWN
STAFF WRITERMeeting in committees Tuesday, Findlay City Council members tweaked plans to expand a tax deferment area, and expressed optimism about approving the changes by the end of the year.
Following more than a year of discussions, council intends to expand one of two existing Community Reinvestment Areas to encompass the entire city. Such areas defer additional tax payments for those who make property improvements.
But the new zone would include several more eligibility requirements, based on the amount spent on improvements and the age of structures.
Council and city administrators think the updated plan will provide more equitable and attractive incentives for homeowners and businesses to build and renovate.
Previous plans had targeted specific neighborhoods, and had subsequently prompted arguments about unfair exclusion.
Under the updated plan, property owners with the oldest buildings who spend the most on improvements would receive the longest tax deferments.
Along with encouraging redevelopment in older places, the city hopes to lure more businesses within the corporation limits with the altered program.
Tuesday's discussion specified that the reinvestment area would be expanded automatically when land is annexed into the city, and that it would take precedence over other tax-related programs, such as tax increment financing.
Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer said officials are aware that with the revised investment area, the city will be giving up a certain amount of additional property tax collections for years. But he said the development and improvement that officials expect it to create will more than make up for the losses.
"Any temporary loss we feel will be offset by investment," Schmelzer said. "Also, keep in mind that we don't lose anything" by revising the area, he said. "Our (property tax collection) levels will stay the same" until they increase once each tax deferment expires.
Proposed deferments for residential, commercial and industrial properties will range in length from four to 10 years.
City Council is working out the details of the plan as legislation moves forward. It gave a first reading to a resolution at its last regular meeting, and expects to pass an amended version in December.
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