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Cincinnati Public Schools, City Council appear to reach tax deal

Both sides could vote Wednesday
Posted at 6:12 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-04 20:17:16-05

CINCINNATI — Members of Cincinnati City Council and the Cincinnati School Board hope they finally came to an agreement on tax abatements that both sides can support.

The city’s Budget and Finance Committee pushed forward a new tax deal Tuesday after the former one expired last year and attempts at resolutions were scuttled.

“I think we’ve been dealing with this for a year, and I think it’s time to move forward,” said Councilman David Mann.

“I’d ask my colleagues to stop arguing. Let’s be done,” echoed Councilman Greg Landsman.

School Board President Carolyn Jones said both sides just had to “get on the same page about where the priorities are.”

The agreement allows the city to continue offering tax deals to new developers while making sure the district isn’t losing its fair share of property taxes, which fund the district.

The agreement includes:

• 33% “pilot payments” for five years. That’s money paid to the district instead of property taxes.

• An annual audit on the deal.

• The city’s commitment to invest 15% in the city's voluntary tax incentive contribution agreement (VTICA) program, which funds affordable housing.

Jones said that tax money is vital for the district.

“Just in real terms, we’re a district that’s on the move. It just helps us think big picture about our long-range financial plan and our stability in the community,” Jones said.

Not everyone is on board, though. Councilman Jeff Pastor said he fears the deal is “too rushed.”

“I think this is just the wrong way to go about it. I think this is bad government,” Pastor said.

But Mann said too much time has already passed.

“We all assign a high priority to our schools and funding to our schools and the time has passed when we could jeopardize agreements,” Mann said.

The agreement does require final approval from both the full council and full school board. That could come Wednesday. CPS meets at 4 p.m. and city council meets at 6 p.m.

“A lot of people have their say, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to go forward tomorrow,” Mann said. “Good lord, I hope so.”