Local lawmakers were unable to secure the city of West Carrollton a $627,000 a year property tax break on a proposed arena-event center through the $62 billion state budget.
Ohio Representatives Terry Blair, R-Washington Twp., and Jim Butler, R-Oakwood and Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, backed amendments to forgive property taxes on a $22 million arena-event center, seen as the centerpiece of the city’s Miami Bend redevelopment plan.
“It didn’t get into the budget,” Blair said. “I really want to get it done.”
West Carrollton began pursuing the property tax exemption last year after learning Youngstown and other larger Ohio cities were exempted from property taxes on their arenas and event centers through state laws tailored to their cases.
“It’s development. It’s jobs,” Blair said.
Lehner was unavailable for comment. Her office referred questions about the rejection of the amendment to the Ohio Senate Majority.
“There’s commonly not a reason. There’s thousands of them submitted to the budget. Not all of them get in,” said Joshua Eck, press secretary for the Ohio Senate Majority said.
Eck added that the Senate is likely to revisit the issue during the summer based on the economic development potential of the project.
Since reopening a refurbished Exit 47, the city has reduced speed limits, established curbside parking and made other changes in anticipation of a development of a $100 million entertainment district, featuring restaurants and other businesses serving the arena and a nearby whitewater park on the Great Miami River.
City officials say the tax break is needed to secure financing for the arena component.
“We’re still on hold until we get something through the legislature,” City Manager Brad Townsend said.
Butler and Blair differ on the approach.
Butler continues to favor a bill granting the tax break to all Ohio cities not already covered by special amendments “carved out” for individual cases.
“What I will be introducing is to have the law apply equally to everyone,” Butler said.
While understanding Butler’s approach, Blair said focusing on the West Carrollton exemption would simplify getting the law passed by avoiding opposition to a broader bill from special interests.
“This might be easier to get through,” Blair said.