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Westlake City Council passed a package of ordinances that advance the construction of American Greetings' planned headquarters building at Crocker Park. The approved legislation includes a 30-year TIF, a 15-year income tax credit, issuance of additional bonds to fund public improvements, and authorization for the mayor to sign a development agreement. Stark Enterprises also plans to build more apartments and retail space at Crocker Park. The new construction will be supported by bonds from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

Four projects in Cleveland and one in Chagrin Falls received awards in the 10th round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. In Cleveland, the Fairmont Creamery redevelopment received a $3.12 million tax credit; the final phase of the St. Luke's Hospital redevelopment received a $506,600 tax credit; and residential conversions of two adjacent buildings on Huron Avenue in downtown Cleveland, the Starr Gennett Building and 1220 Huron, received tax credits of $422,001 and $3.55 million, respectively. The Spillway project in Chagrin Falls received a $1.65 million tax credit.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and the Cleveland Metroparks will have tax levies on the November ballot in Cuyahoga County. The Port Authority's board of directors voted to place a 0.13-mill renewal issue on the ballot. Voters rejected a 0.67-mill levy last year. The Plain Dealer published an op-ed by Ed FitzGerald and Frank Jackson in support of the issue, and another by Jack Boyle and Jim Trutko in opposition.

The Cleveland Metroparks commissioners voted to place a 2.7-mill levy on the ballot, a 1.8-mill renewal and a 0.9-mill increase. The Metroparks' last levy request was in 2004. Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman recently spoke about the parks at the City Club (video, audio (MP3, 51.5 MB)).

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County will also have a renewal levy on the November ballot.

Governor Kasich's two-year budget plan calls for investing $500 million from Ohio Turnpike-backed bonds by 2015. The governor initially said that 90% of the funds would be spent in northern Ohio, but ODOT Director Jerry Wray called the figure a "foolish expectation." Statehouse Democrats accused the administration of misleading Ohioans and said that the percentages should be specified in the bill. Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt said that the proposal is not good public policy, and U.S. Represenative Tim Ryan called it short-sighted and risky. The Turnpike Commission is preparing to issue the bonds.

The budget includes a provision that would return control of Cleveland Lakefront State Park to the City of Cleveland (PDF) and provide $14 million for the parks. Plain Dealer columnist Mark Naymik said that legislators should embrace the proposal, and an editorial called it a win-win deal.

Proposed changes to state sales tax laws could affect RTA's finances.

Eight projects in Cuyahoga County were among the 23 recipients of tax credits (PDF) in the ninth round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. The awards included $5 million for the former East Ohio Building in downtown Cleveland, credits for six projects on Cleveland's near west side, and $3 million for the Beech Street Residence Halls Project in Berea.

Update: Cleveland's Department of Economic Development posted more details about the seven projects in Cleveland.

Steven Litt of The Plain Dealer looked back at the defeat of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's levy in November, and concluded that "the port's plan and the levy to support it deserve a second chance." A Crain's Cleveland Business editorial spelled out the challenges facing the Port Authority.

In a 6-1 ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court said that it is unconstitutional for the state to use revenues from its commercial activities tax on gasoline for non-highway purposes. The decision reversed a lower court ruling and will shift $140 million per year from the general fund to highway projects. The Akron Beacon Journal cited the decision as an example of the strength of voter-approved constitutional amendments.

Election recap

This month's election included the following issues (PDF):

In Summit County, Green residents voted to ban casino gambling and horse racing.

Visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for complete results.

At a recent City Club panel discussion, outgoing Congressman Steve LaTourette said that he favors raising the gas tax to help meet funding needs for roads and other transportation infrastructure.

Voters on Tuesday will decide Issue 108, a five-year, 0.67 mill tax levy for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. Will Friedman, the Port's CEO, spoke with Mark Naymik of the Plain Dealer and with Fresh Water's Douglas Trattner. He and other stakeholders participated in a Sound of Ideas show on the levy, and he answered questions at the Civic Commons. Editorials in the Plain Dealer and Sun Newspapers endorsed the levy, while Michael D. Roberts criticized it in Cleveland Magazine, Inside Business, and Scene.

Leaders in North Olmsted are considering legislation that would establish a tax increment financing district for the area around Great Northern Mall. Under the proposal, tax revenue generated by new projects in the district would be used for infrastructure improvements in and around the district.

Update: it would be the first TIF district in North Olmsted.

Aurora City Council approved a JEDD agreement for the Marketplace at Four Corners development in Bainbridge Township. The Bainbridge Township Trustees approved the agreement in May.

The board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority voted to place a five-year, 0.67 mill tax levy on the November ballot. The levy would increase a property owner's tax from $3.50 per $100,000 of assessed value to $20 per $100,000 of assessed value. The new funding (PDF) would be used to implement recommendations (PDF) in the strategic plan the port authority adopted last year, including capital improvements to port facilities, a new sediment disposal program, and Cuyahoga River ship channel restoration and slope stabilization. Steven Litt said it is "a credible, well-conceived plan to rethink and rebuild critical pieces of infrastructure on the lakefront and along the river," while Erick Trickey called it "pretty smart political packaging and coalition-building."

At their Tuesday meeting, Cuyahoga County Council members offered a variety of ideas for investing the County's share of casino tax revenues. Council will continue to discuss the issue.

Update: in an editorial, the Plain Dealer reiterated its support for County Executive FitzGerald's proposal to use the funds to support downtown Cleveland projects.

Update 2: County Council members introduced five different proposals for the money, and another Plain Dealer editorial supported County Executive FitzGerald's suggestion.

The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin says that a proposed federal tax credit program presents an opportunity for Ohio cities to address abandoned housing problems.

The Ohio Department of Taxation changed its policies, declaring that properties in the Wetlands Reserve Program no longer qualify as agricultural land for tax purposes. Property owners with land in conservation easements may see higher tax bills.

Westlake City Council approved a 30-year tax abatement for the planned American Greetings headquarters at Crocker Park. The abatement will begin in 2014, when the new offices are expected to open.

The City of Cleveland may terminate several tax abatements for properties that failed to meet economic development goals, including the Stager-Beckwith Mansion on Euclid Avenue. Meanwhile, Cleveland City Council is considering two pieces of legislation that would expand the City's ability to recoup expenses and fines incurred by negligent property owners.

Update: the Plain Dealer provides more information about the proposed legislation.

The two-year state budget signed by Governor Kasich includes an extension and expansion of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, the new Innovation Fund intended to support local government restructuring efforts, and the option to pursue a lease of the Ohio Turnpike.

Update: the National Trust for Historic Preservation has more information about the tax credit renewal, and the Blade has more on the possible lease of the turnpike.

The budget bills passed by the Ohio House and Senate include an extension of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. Proponents of the program want the $25 million annual ceiling to be increased. A new study from Cleveland State University (PDF) says that the "program is producing a multitude of benefits across the state of Ohio."

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $25.6 million in the second round of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credits, including $2 million to the Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund II. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded $300,033 in Coastal Management Assistance Grants, including $13,545 for Rocky River sub-watershed protection and restoration plans and $21,000 for the Tinkers Creek Watershed Community Engagement Project.

A new Greater Ohio analysis of Ohio's sales tax patterns and policies concludes that "Ohio's county-based sales tax structure is misaligned with regional shopping trends." It recommends strategies for modernizing the state's taxation system. A short report issued (PDF) by Advance Northeast Ohio puts forward a case for increasing local government collaborations as a method of increasing efficiency.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business and WKSU reported on the Advance Northeast Ohio report. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that communities need more financial support for collaboration initiatives.

American Greetings notified its employees that it will move its headquarters from Brooklyn to Westlake in 2014. The company plans to build a a 700,000-square-foot complex on a 13-acre site at the southern end of Crocker Park, and is in discussions with the City of Westlake and the Westlake City Schools about a 30-year tax increment financing package. The $100 million development will require about $41 million in infrastructure improvements. Mayor Balbier of Brooklyn said his city made every effort to keep American Greetings, but "can't compete with a wealthy suburb like Westlake."

Update: a Morning Journal editorial said it "should make the entire West Shore region of western Cuyahoga and eastern Lorain counties even more appealing". Roldo Bartimole called it a "big theft of public dollars".

The two-year budget approved by the Ohio House on Thursday would indefinitely extend the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, capping the annual allocation at $25 million. The Greater Cleveland Partnership supports the provision.

The City of Avon intends to assess 105 property owners for up to a third of the price of the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. The assessments were not part of the original funding scheme for the interchange, but rising costs have led the City to pursue the assessments. Property owners say that the proposed assessments are unfair, while Mayor Smith counters that they are getting a good deal. Residents opposed to the assessments attended a City Council meeting on Monday and a recent City Council work session.

Best Buy plans to build a 368,060-square-foot distribution center in Streetsboro. The Streetsboro Board of Education approved an eight-year, 100% tax abatement for the development. Payroll processing company Paychex intends to consolidate its offices in Warrensville Heights and Green at a new site in Boston Heights. The Village and the Hudson School District approved a 10-year, 100% tax abatement.

Update: Best Buy is moving its operations from Glenwillow.

The Ohio House of Representatives approved a two-year state transportation budget. The $7 billion budget includes $4.2 billion for road maintenance and construction, and a tax exemption for for petroleum marketers. Meanwhile, a new report by Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution recommends strategies to states for remaking their transportation systems.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the Ohio Senate should consider proposals that were omitted in the House version of the bill.

American Greetings leaders announced on Monday that the company will keep its headquarters in Northeast Ohio, but added that they have not decided on a location in the area. The company is considering its current location in Brooklyn and four other sites in suburban Cuyahoga County. Ohio legislators passed a tax incentive aimed at keeping the company in the state, and Governor Kasich signed the bill (PDF) on Monday. A Plain Dealer editorial called it "a win for the home team."

Update: Ed FitzGerald does not want to encourage the company to relocate from one Cuyahoga County city to another, and will not offer any financial incentives.

The Olmsted Joint Economic Development District revealed plans for the 385-acre Stearns Crossing Business Park in Olmsted Township. The first phase includes more than 250 acres near Stearns and Bagley roads.

Local officials and developers are encouraging Ohio legislators to renew the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. The Ohio Department of Development's Urban Development Division is currently accepting applications for its sixth round, but will award credits only if the program is reauthorized.

Strongsville City Council approved the creation of the City's third tax increment financing district, the second along Pearl Road. The TIF district is expected to help fund the second phase of the Pearl Road widening project.

Summit County Council approved funding for a study of a proposed countywide stormwater management program. The program could be funded by a property tax levy. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the proposal reflects a lack of regional coordination.

Update: Summit County Engineer Alan Brubaker responded to the newspaper.

In the first round of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit program, the Ohio Department of Development made $10 million in credits available to four Ohio entities. About half of the credits were awarded to two Cuyahoga County recipients, one affiliated with KeyBank and the other associated with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The credits may be used to support the Allen Theatre renovations and the Evergreen Cooperatives, among other initiatives.

While the City of Avon has reached purchase agreements with many of the 31 property owners at the site of the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road, it is preparing to take 11 of them to court in an effort to determine a purchase price. Avon City Council also approved expanding the interchange TIF district to encompass 116 parcels.

Update: the Press of Avon Lake has more details.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN featured a spirited debate about municipal revenue sharing and the 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative. The guests were Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley, Aurora Mayor Lynn McGill, and Professor Tom Bier, who recently wrote an op-ed about ideas for improving Northeast Ohio's older cities.

The City of Seven Hills may create a tax increment financing district to help fund improvements along Broadview Road.

In the fourth round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, 13 projects were awarded $28.3 million in tax credits. Three Cuyahoga County properties were among the recipients: the Union Building in Cleveland, the former Berea Congregational United Church of Christ, and the Schofield Building in downtown Cleveland. It will be converted to a 140-room boutique hotel and 24 luxury apartments. While the program has been praised, this could be its final round. It's up for renewal, and could end if a new funding source is not identified.

The City of Avon will levy special assessments against more than 100 property owners near the planned new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. The tax will cover $9 million of the $28 million project. Property owners object to the assessments.

Update: land acquisition for the interchange is underway.

Ohio lawmakers approved casino authorization legislation early Friday morning. The bill includes a provision that will permit the Cleveland casino to open in phases and another that grants a property tax exemption to the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland.

Update: Governor Strickland signed the bill.

Greater Ohio has begun to gather feedback on a proposal for a statewide quarter-percent sales tax increase to fund public transit.

The Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation that includes a permanent 100% property tax abatement for the Medical Mart in downtown Cleveland. The Ohio Senate has not voted on the proposal.

The city councils of Solon and Twinsburg approved a memorandum of understanding that calls for cooperation on business relocations that involve incentives. Officials hope to reach similar agreements with other neighboring communities.

Backers of the 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative recently presented its regional planning and tax-base sharing concepts to local officials at a meeting in Fairview Park. The Initiative was also the subject of a debate in Hudson.

Update: organizers delivered a similar message in Shaker Heights.

Update 2: a Sun News editorial supports the initiative.

The Regional Prosperity Initiative's tax base sharing proposal has its supporters and detractors. WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with a backer and a critic.

Avon City Council may soon approve the proposed tax increment financing district for the area around the planned I-90 interchange at Nagel Road.

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation issued a request for proposals from developers interested in constructing an offshore pilot wind farm near downtown Cleveland. LEEDCo hopes to select a company in May and have the wind turbines operating by late 2012. Sherrod Brown and Ted Strickland are backing federal and state legislation that would support research and create tax incentives for wind power.

In his two newest columns, Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal looked at policy recommendations from the Restoring Prosperity report released by Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution. He first discussed school district consolidation and the reactions of political leaders. In the second piece, he looked at the costs of local government fragmentation and the prospects for reorganizing local government. Greater Ohio officials and state legislators also recently discussed the report at the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

Development of the Shores of Edgecliff project has not progressed as Euclid leaders hoped it would. The residential lakefront development remains unfinished, and two homeowners are suing the Coral Co., its developer.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency used federal stimulus funds to approve more than $53 million in tax credits. Three projects in Cuyahoga County were among the recipients: Emerald Alliance V on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Independence Place at the Prospect Avenue YWCA in Cleveland, and the Library Court senior housing development on Chagrin Boulevard in Shaker Heights.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $23.7 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to 12 projects across the state. The only recipient in Cuyahoga County was the Cowell & Hubbard Building in downtown Cleveland. The Playhouse Square Foundation purchased the building in 2007.

The tax sharing component of the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative continues to draw opposition in Lake County. The Initiative issued an interim revenue sharing report (PDF) in September.

Greater Ohio, building on input provided at June's Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit, has prepared a draft of its Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Policy Platform and is gathering comments and suggestions. The document will serve as a model for platforms for other Ohio cities.

The proposed Regional Prosperity Initiative continues to generate mixed reactions. Some leaders in Wayne County support the concept, while others have doubts.

The Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association has taken no action on the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative since it was presented to members in April. Painesville City Manager Rita McMahon expects that building consensus will be difficult.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health selected a site along Euclid Avenue between East 55th and East 63rd streets for the new $84 million regional psychiatric hospital. It will replace aging facilities at the MetroHealth campus on Cleveland's west side and in Sagamore Hills Township. The 14-acre site was previously targeted for redevelopment as the Midtown Technology Center. Meanwhile, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency awarded affordable housing tax credits to six projects in Cuyahoga County, including two controversial planned developments in Midtown. Emerald Alliance V, a permanent supportive housing development, received $1 million. A neighboring planned senior housing development received $915,122.

A Bainbridge Township Trustee said that the Township would be willing to reconsider the proposed JEDD for the Marketplace at Four Corners area, if the City of Aurora will pay the entire $1.2 million sought by the McGill Property Group.

Update: Aurora leaders remain interested in the JEDD.

The Brookings Institution posted the text of Bruce Katz's remarks at the recent Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit.

Over 400 people attended the Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit on Monday. Keynote speaker Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution made suggestions for improving Ohio's competitiveness through government reform, and urged state leaders to target investments in urban areas instead of spreading them around "like peanut butter."

The Ohio Department of Development will begin accepting applications for round three of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program on July 1.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.

About 60 people attended a Regional Prosperity Initiative meeting in Warrensville Heights today. Mayor Currin of Hudson said that the group hopes to introduce a revenue sharing and regional land use planning proposal by September.

Backers of the Regional Prosperity Initiative continue to promote the concept to area officials, but two Lorain County mayors are concerned that it would not help their communities. Supporters will convene additional meetings in the coming weeks.

Update: WKSU shared more information about the initiative. A Morning Journal editorial calls for more details.

Members of the Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association are skeptical about the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and question the need for regional revenue sharing. The Regional Prosperity Initiative will hold its first monthly webinar on May 1.

The owner of Bennington Village in Parma Heights is renovating the condominiums for sale, and has requested a 10-year tax abatement for the property. City Council is considering the implications of his proposal.

Berea leaders decided not to renew the City's expiring tax abatement program. Several residents spoke out against its renewal.

Aurora City Council voted to begin a "meaningful dialogue" about the proposed Aurora-Bainbridge JEDD, but the Bainbridge Township Trustees rejected the proposal by a vote of 2-1.

Several aspects of Cuyahoga County's convention center and Medical Mart plans have recently appeared in the news:

As part of their proposal to create an Aurora-Bainbridge Township JEDD, officials with shopping center developers McGill Property Group are seeking $600,000 from Bainbridge Township and $600,000 from the City of Aurora.

Amanda Woodrum of Policy Matters Ohio is the author of Committing to Commuters, a new report about state of public transit in Ohio. In an Akron Beacon Journal op-ed, she wrote about the state's lack of investment in public transportation and the need for a dedicated funding source. An editorial in the paper agrees with her conclusions.

Hudson Mayor William Currin, chairman of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association, wrote in a Plain Dealer op-ed that now is the time for regional cooperation in Northeast Ohio, and announced the new Regional Prosperity Initiative. The new initiative promotes regional land use planning and revenue sharing as ways to achieve a prosperous future.

Beachwood City Council, Eaton Corp., and two school districts agreed to a 30-year tax increment financing package for the company's planned new headquarters in the Chagrin Highlands. The State of Ohio has already committed $71 million in tax breaks and loans to facilitate the company's move from downtown Cleveland.

Update: The Plain Dealer reports that the combined incentives are worth more than $90 million.

The 83 housing starts in Berea last year were the most in Cuyahoga County. Municipal officials credit the City's new tax abatement policy with encouraging the construction.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District board did not vote on the proposal to take responsibility for managing stormwater at a regional level. District staff will continue to promote the concept in the 61-community service area, and the board may pass the proposal in late summer or early fall. A Plain Dealer editorial agrees with their conclusion.

On Thursday (PDF), the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will discuss the regional stormwater management role proposed for the agency. The increase in responsibilities would be accompanied by new fees, which have been controversial, especially in light of the continued increases in sewer rates.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake answers questions about regional stormwater management.

McGill Properties wants to restructure the tax increment financing agreement for its Greenbriar Crossing development in Parma Heights, without which the company may be unable to proceed with construction.

On Monday, South Euclid City Council unanimously approved the creation a community reinvestment area encompassing the entire city. The City of Brooklyn passed similar legislation last month.

Election recap

Ohio
Issue 2 (Clean Ohio renewal): passed
Issue 3 (water rights amendment): passed

Brecksville
Issue 14 (Pilgrim Inn zoning overlay): passed

Broadview Heights
Issues 15-16, 20-25 (rezonings): passed
Issues 17-19 (Zoning Board of Appeals changes): passed

Chagrin Falls
Issue 32 (Architectural Review Board changes): passed

Highland Heights
Issue 63 (development in parks): passed

Oakwood
Issue 83 (hazardous storage buffer): passed

Pepper Pike
Issue 86 (sign regulations): passed
Issue 87 (police station rezoning): passed

Solon
Issue 103 (O-2 district changes): passed
Issue 105 (retail rezoning): passed

South Euclid
Issue 106 (remove point-of-sale inspections): passed

Tri-City Joint Recreation District
Issue 136 (1 mill levy): failed

Avon
Issue 10 (retail rezoning): passed

Portage County
Issue 10 (Park District levy): failed

Twinsburg
Issues 32-35 (zoning code changes): passed

For more results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Openers, or the Sun News.

The Supplemental School Revenue Committee in Valley View agreed on a proposal for replacing lost income to the Cuyahoga Heights Schools caused by the move of Safeguard Properties. The agreement, which will be presented to Village Council, calls for sharing income taxes collected from the company.

Last week, Brooklyn City Council unanimously approved the creation of a citywide community reinvestment area.

The Ohio Department of Development announced the recipients in the second round of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program today. Of the 48 projects selected, 14 are in Cleveland. The Terminal Tower, St. Luke's Hospital, and the East Ohio Gas Building on East 6th Street each received credits valued at an estimated $5 million.

If passed by voters in Berea, Brook Park, and Middleburg Heights, the 1 mill continuing levy of Issue 136 will provide funds to construct and maintain new facilities for the Tri-City Senior Center. Many elected officials in Berea and Brook Park are opposed to the issue.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Office recommended awarding federal tax credits for the planned renovation of the Cleveland Trust Tower in downtown Cleveland. The tax credits could be worth $8-$10 million for the $133 million project.

A Solon resident is questioning the legality of using tax increment financing for the proposed Central Park development. He believes that the type of TIF proposed can only be used in blighted areas.

Brooklyn City School District administrators support the plan for creating a citywide community reinvestment area.

The City of Cleveland Heights has started offering 100% tax abatements over seven years for new residential construction.

The City of Solon, the Solon City Schools, and the Coral Co. are negotiating a 30-year TIF agreement for the proposed Central Park development.

Mayor Westfall of Valley View formed the Supplemental School Revenue Committee. The committee is charged with finding ways to replace the loss of tax revenue to the Cuyahoga Heights Schools caused by the move of Safeguard Properties.

Legislation was introduced in Brooklyn City Council that would designate the entire city as a community reinvestment area. Homeowners and businesses in CRAs are eligible for tax incentives on new construction and major renovations. The City of South Euclid is considering similar legislation.

Valley View Village Council approved a tax break for a company it hopes will move from Brooklyn Heights. Mayor Procuk of Brooklyn Heights appears to have dropped his objections.

Update: Mayor Procuk said he has "cooled down a bit".

The mayor of Brooklyn Heights accused the mayor of Valley View of stealing a business by offering the company a tax break to relocate to Valley View. The Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association approved a nonbinding no-poaching resolution in 2006. Valley View Village Council is scheduled to vote on the incentives on Tuesday.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial encourages the public and local leaders to pressure Valley View officials to drop their plans.

Parma Heights City Council passed a tax increment financing agreement for the Greenbriar Crossing development at West 130th Street and Pearl Road. The agreement also requires the approval of the Parma Board of Education.

The Francis Court Gables townhouses in South Euclid are not selling well, and only one building has been constructed. Developer Jim Teresi wants the City to adopt a residential tax abatement measure. In addition, the proposed Stoneridge Place subdivision and Liberty Court condominiums are on indefinite hold.

The Ohio Department of Development will announce additional historic preservation tax credit awards before the end of September. Changes to the rules place a greater emphasis on the potential economic benefits of redevelopment and a more equitable distribution across the state. A large percentage of the round one awards went to projects in Cleveland.

Parma Heights City Council will be asked to approve a tax increment financing package for the Greenbrier Crossing development at Pearl Road and West 130th Street.

Portage County residents will vote on a 0.5-mill levy for Portage Park District operations. Voters have turned down levy requests four times in the past 12 years. The group Citizens for Portage Parks supports the levy request.

If the proposed rezoning for the Twinsburg Fashion Place development is approved, members of the Twinsburg Board of Education expect that they will be asked to authorize a TIF package for the retail project.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that "Ohio has done the right thing" in reviving the Historic Preservation Tax Credit program.

MyHometownOhio lists the changes to the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program that were made as part of the recent economic stimulus package.

Update: The Plain Dealer has more details about the changes.

By a vote of 10-4, the board of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District decided to put a 1 mill, five-year levy on the November ballot in Berea, Brook Park, and Middleburg Heights. The board's president says that it would raise enough money to demolish and replace the existing Tri-City Senior Center and cover operating expenses and programming.

The Solon Board of Education retained a law firm to represent them in TIF negotiations with the City and the Coral Co. The company is seeking a TIF for 75% of the non-school area in the proposed 90 acre Central Park development.

Mayor O'Grady of North Olmsted pulled back his plans for a new recreation center and an income tax increase. He intends to revisit the proposal in the future.

Yesterday, the Fund for Our Economic Future awarded four grants totaling $4.98 million to spur regional economic development efforts. The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association received $50,000 for further analysis of revenue sharing and regional land use planning through the Regional Economic Revenue Study.

A study funded by the Coral Co. says that the company's proposed Central Park development would generate $65.21 million in tax revenues and fees for the City of Solon over a 20 year period. The company and the City do not agree on how best to share the costs of various studies on the proposed mixed-use development.

Feedback from the public led North Olmsted leaders to part ways with YMCA for the proposed $18 million recreation center. Mayor O'Grady still hopes to have a tax issue on the November ballot. The dissolution of the partnership means that the income tax would run for 30 years instead of 20-25 years.

The board of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District established a committee that will study the options for a proposed levy that would fund the Tri-City Senior Center.

Leaders in North Olmsted hope to reach a decision by later this month about the proposed recreation master plan and a possible income tax issue.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that state officials erred in limiting participation in the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, and urges them to remove the "outrageous and capricious cap".

Next month, the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association will vote on whether to pursue recommendations identified in the Regional Economic Revenue Study. Chairman William Currin, the mayor of Hudson, declined to identify the recommendations (PDF) prior to the meeting.

The Plain Dealer reviewed the history of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, the controversial decision to cap its funding at $120 million, and the program's potential direction in the future.

Several Ohio property owners are suing the Ohio Department of Development, claiming that the agency's decision to halt the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program was illegal. The proposed Ohio stimulus package may include additional funding for the program.

Elected leaders from across a 16 county Northeast Ohio region signaled their willingness to pursue regional land use planning and revenue sharing. Details will be released at a May 15 meeting of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association.

A report by the City of Westlake's Economic Development Department says that tax abatements have led to the creation of 746 jobs and the retention of another 367 jobs over the last nine years.

Nine more properties in Cleveland received awards through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program. Locally, the largest credits went to the Higbee Building ($7.8 million), the Cleveland Institute of Art's McCullough Center ($5.7 million), the Hanna Building ($4.6 million), and the Union Gospel Press building ($4.4 million). It was the third and final announcement in round one of the awards. MyHometownOhio reports that there will not be a second round because the program reached its $120 million limit. The Plain Dealer listed the status of all local applicants.

The City of Solon may pay for portions of a proposed new four lane road that would connect the proposed Central Parc development to Route 422. Developer Peter Rubin of the Coral Co. is also scheduled to address the Solon School Board on Monday about tax increment financing for the development. Meanwhile, Solon City Council is examining a proposal to create a low-density multifamily zoning district on the south side of Bainbridge Road.

The Gund Foundation's latest round of awards includes a $40,000 grant to the City Fresh program, a $90,000 grant to the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy for its farmland preservation efforts, and a $100,000 grant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to evaluate the economic impact of the pilot Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

Several area officials declared that plans for a soccer stadium in northern Summit County are dead.

The deadline set by the Cuyahoga County Commissioners for reaching an agreement with Merchandise Mart Properties regarding the proposed Medical Mart passed earlier this week, but the company requested and received a one week extension. The Commissioners now expect to have an answer by March 13. A pair of Cleveland councilmen, meanwhile, want the Commissioners to rescind last year's sales tax increase.

Roldo Bartimole objects to the public subsidization of private downtown developments, using the incentives earmarked for the rehabilitation the 668 Euclid complex as an example.

Many cities are encountering obstacles in meeting their carbon dioxide reduction goals, despite enthusiasm among citizens and city officials in places such as Cleveland. Even the best-laid plans to reduce emissions have been constrained by budgets, conflicting political ideologies, legal restrictions by states, and people's unwillingness to change.

The website for the Regional Economic Revenue Study has been updated with a series of video interviews with Myron Orfield about regional planning and revenue sharing.

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

South Euclid leaders are considering a plan to designate the entire City as a community reinvestment area. Homeowners who reinvest in their properties would be eligible for a property tax reduction. New construction would also qualify for the reduction.

Euclid City Council's Executive and Finance Committee unanimously voted to establish a 25 year TIF for the forthcoming CVS store on Lake Shore Boulevard. The precise boundaries of the TIF zone have yet to be determined.

The Ohio Department of Development gave 11 more awards through the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, including six in Cleveland. The largest tax credit in Cleveland, valued at an estimated $1.4 million, went to the Scott A. Rogers Co. Building, part of the University Lofts development near Cleveland State University. The Capitol Theater in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood received a tax credit worth an estimated $1.1 million.

Attorney Pam Hanover, the City of Solon's bond counsel, provided advice to City Council's Finance Committee about preparing for the proposed mixed-use developments and a possible TIF.

Yesterday, Avon City Council approved a tax increment financing package for the area along Chester Road between Center and Nagel Roads. Revenues from the 30-year TIF will be used to pay for roughly ⅓ of the planned Nagel Road interchange. Another third will be funded by municipal bonds, and the final third by the Jacobs Group.

The newly formed Tri-City Joint Recreation District will not have a tax levy on the March ballot because the board has not yet held a meeting. Its first meeting will be held on January 14.

The Wolstein Sports and Entertainment Group is still interested in building a soccer stadium in Macedonia, which may be possible without a Summit County sin tax. The company is also looking at sites in other counties.

Developer Bob Stark's ambitious plans for a $1.5 billion Warehouse District development will require significant public investment, and he wants to explore non-traditional public financing options. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt says that Stark's big idea "ought to get a full and fair hearing". Mayor Jackson likes the development proposal, and is keeping an open mind about Stark's financing ideas.

In March, Maple Heights voters will be asked to approve a tax issue to raise $53.5 million for the proposed school construction project, which calls for replacing the high school, the middle school, and three elementary school buildings. A pair of public meetings will be held this week.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $30 million in historic tax credits to five downtown Cleveland renovation projects. The largest credit, valued at $16.4 million, went to the 668 Euclid building.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial is very positive about the program.)

While voters in Berea and Brook Park approved the creation of the Tri-City Joint Recreation District, some councilmen in the two cities remain vocally opposed to a tax to support the Tri-City Senior Center.

Earlier today, Mayor Jackson proposed new standards for housing construction and renovation. In order to obtain financial assistance from the City, builders and contractors would have to meet national green building standards. Some builders worry that it would raise their costs. If Cleveland City Council adopts the proposal, the new rules would start in 2009.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says the proposal "isn't a bad idea. But it has to be done carefully.")

Election recap

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority
Issue 14 (renewal levy): passed

Tri-City Joint Recreation District
Issue 19 (Berea): passed
Issue 27 (Brook Park): passed

Broadview Heights
Issue 26 (retail rezoning): passed

Highland Heights
Issue 61 (rezoning): passed

Seven Hills
Issue 76 (Rockside Terrace rezoning): passed

Westlake
Issue 80 (Lutheran Home rezoning): passed
Issue 81 (Crocker Park rezoning): passed

Avon
Issue 35 (rec center/stadium tax): passed

Brunswick
Charter Amendment 1 (eliminate planning director): passed

Streetsboro
Issue 23 (establish planning department): passed
Issue 25 (establish Master Plan Review Commission): passed

Boston Heights
Issue 51 (retail rezoning): failed
Issue 52 (permit big box retail): failed

Twinsburg
Issue 50 (zoning code changes): failed

For complete Cuyahoga County results, visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections or Cleveland.com.

Today's ballot in Berea (Issue 19) and Brook Park (Issue 27) includes a proposal to create a joint recreational taxing district to support the Tri-City Senior Center. Middleburg Heights City Council approved the district last year. Funding for the district is not included in this issue.

Yesterday, a group of political and business leaders gathered to support Issue 14, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's renewal levy. If approved, it will generate $3.2 million per year for the next five years.

Developers are working to obtain municipal approval for the second phase of the Renaissance Park retail development in Strongsville. They continue to seek a TIF package for the 125,000 square foot project (PDF).

A Plain Dealer editorial supports Issue 14, a renewal levy for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

The Garfield Heights Board of Education approved an amended compensation agreement for payments in lieu of taxes in the Bridgeview Crossing TIF package. A $3 million dollar payment originally scheduled for June was shifted to December 31.

The Cleveland Clinic continues to appeal a 2005 ruling of the Ohio Tax Commissioner which declared that the Clinic's Cedar Road facility in Beachwood is not exempt from local property taxes. The case is expected to eventually go before the Ohio Supreme Court.

The NOACA Governing Board passed a resolution (PDF) approving the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, contingent upon the establishment of a revenue sharing plan. Prospective membership in the joint economic development zone was expanded to include eight Lorain County communities. Cleveland officials called the agreement "a giant step toward regional cooperation," but others feel that it may lead to NOACA's demise.

(Update: The Morning Journal and Plain Dealer have more details.)

Avon leaders offered a compromise agreement intended to end the controversy over the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. In exchange for approving the interchange, an 800 acre joint economic development zone in Avon would be created by Avon, Cleveland, and six western Cuyahoga County suburbs. Under the proposal, if a company with a payroll of more than $1 million were to move from one of the member cities to the Avon development zone, the two cities would evenly split its income tax revenue for five years. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the "region needs a coherent development strategy."

(Update: The Plain Dealer and Chronicle-Telegram report that officials are close to reaching a deal.)

Cleveland Development Advisors obtained $25 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits. They will award the credits to businesses and banks that invest in catalytic developments in Cleveland.

The Plain Dealer compared Cuyahoga County's decision to use a sales tax increase to pay for a new convention center with funding mechanisms employed by other cities.

Now that Broadview Heights enacted fees to fund stormwater projects, City officials will begin to prioritize the projects.

Local activists were unable to obtain enough signatures in a petition drive to force a referendum issue on the recent Cuyahoga County sales tax increase. The quarter-percent increase will begin on October 1 and remain in place for 20 years. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "the real work on a convention center now begins."

Summit County leaders want more information about the proposed soccer stadium and retail complex in Macedonia before they decide whether to put a sin tax for the stadium on the ballot.

Broadview Heights City Council's Stormwater Committee is preparing for a public hearing on proposed fees to fund stormwater projects. It will be held on August 30 at 7:00 p.m. in Broadview Heights City Hall.

After reaching a water distribution and no poaching agreement with the City of Cleveland, leaders in Bedford are contemplating the implications of a region-wide tax sharing plan.

Plans for the proposed 12 unit condominium project on Lorain Road are scheduled to go before the Fairview Park Board of Zoning Appeals next month. The site of the planned Residences of Chanticleer development is currently occupied by a single-family house.

Summit County Council decided not to place a sin tax for the proposed soccer stadium on the November ballot. Officials felt that the timing was wrong because there are two other countywide levies on the November ballot. The sin tax may appear on the March ballot. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that it was a wise decision.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority placed a 0.13 mill property tax renewal levy on the November ballot. The current levy will expire at the end of 2008.

Yesterday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners held a second public hearing on the proposed sales tax increase to fund the construction of a new convention center to compliment the proposed Medical Mart. Following the meeting, the Commissioners voted 2-1 to raise the sales tax by a quarter percent for 20 years. A group of politicians and citizens responded by starting a petition drive to force a voter referendum on the increase. Cleveland.com compiled some reactions from area bloggers, while a Plain Dealer editorial says that the Commissioners "made the correct but politically difficult vote".

Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones says that the proposed Cleveland Medical Mart and convention center "clearly offers great promise", but he does not support raising the sales tax to pay for their construction. Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins also endorses the concept, but would like to explore the reuse of the existing convention center site and "less burdensome" tax options. The second public hearing on the proposed sales tax increase will be held tomorrow morning, and following the hearing, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners plan to vote on the proposal.

A Plain Dealer editorial and Joe Roman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership both assert that the proposed Cuyahoga County sales tax increase is the only viable option for funding the construction of a new convention center.

Officials from Macedonia and Northfield Center Township reached a tentative agreement that calls for Macedonia to annex more than 200 acres along Route 8 south of Highland Road for the proposed soccer stadium complex. On August 6, Summit County Council is expected to vote on placing the proposed sin tax on the November ballot.

(Update: annexation talks are continuing, and Summit County Council has not yet voted on the sin tax proposal.)

About 300 people attended yesterday's public hearing on the proposed sales tax increase to fund the construction of a new convention center that would accompany the proposed Cleveland Medical Mart. Chris Kennedy of Merchandise Mart Properties told them that Cleveland should move quickly to avoid competing proposals from other cities. WKYC has video of the 40 minute presentation.

The City Club will host a session about the Medical Mart proposal on August 3, and Scott Suttell of Crain's Cleveland Business wonders "why the city's power brokers are so allergic to free-wheeling debate." Today, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners announced that the proposed ¼% sales tax increase would expire in 20 years and that its revenues would be used exclusively for the new convention center.

Owners of historic structures in Cleveland submitted 32 of the 69 applications for the new Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The properties include the Terminal Tower, Higbee Building, Cleveland Trust Rotunda, and the Cleveland Athletic Club.

Broadview Heights City Council will not vote on the proposed stormwater funding fee until August 13 at the earliest.

The first of two public hearings on the proposed Cuyahoga County sales tax increase is being held this morning, and the Plain Dealer took a quick look at some of the County's other taxation options. The second hearing will be held on July 26.

Cleveland.com and Roger Bundy cataloged the questions asked at yesterday's Cool Cleveland forum on the proposed Cuyahoga County sales tax increase (PDF). Photographs of the event are available at Cool Cleveland.

(Update: Meet the Bloggers provided audio of the session.)

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

A coalition of local labor leaders is backing the proposed Cuyahoga County sales tax increase that would fund the construction of the Medical Mart and a new convention center, while a group of Cleveland City Council members feel that tax increase should be put on the ballot. Tradeshow Week summarized the Medical Mart proposal.

Four suburban Cuyahoga County mayors say that their residents will support the proposed sales tax increase for the proposed Medical Mart only if all of the tax revenue goes directly to the project, and is not used to support other initiatives. Meanwhile, Plain Dealer columnist Kevin O'Brien thinks that the Medical Mart proposal is a good idea.

By a vote of 3-2, Macedonia City Council approved a controversial 100%, 30 year tax increment financing package for the proposed Mary Maria senior housing complex. The TIF will be used to fund the construction of a road connecting Valley View Road to Route 82.

Yesterday's launch of the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program attracted a crowd to the Ohio Historic Preservation Office in Columbus, as applicants camped out in line over the weekend for the first-come, first-served application process. The office opened at 8:00, and by 11:00 a.m., applications for 63 projects had been filed. 100 projects will be financed this year.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson supports the proposed sales tax increase to attract the proposed medical mart and build a corresponding new convention center, while a Plain Dealer editorial says that local leaders must persuade the public of the idea's value. This morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a debate about the proposal.

(Update: WCPN distilled the discussion into a short piece.)

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners presented a plan to raise the sales tax by a quarter percent to support a new convention center that would accompany the proposed medical mart. The increase to 7.75% would raise a projected additional $42 million per year, of which $20 million would be used to pay for the convention center. Voter approval is not needed for the tax increase, but public hearings are required, and they will be held on July 19 and July 26.

(Update: The Plain Dealer examined the reactions of suburban leaders, and WKSU also reported on the proposal.)

Preservation Ohio launched the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Resource Center, "a one-stop location for information on the newest financial incentive for renovation and restoration of historic buildings in Ohio." The presentation (PDF) from last month's Northeast Ohio Historic Tax Credit training seminar is also available online.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial concludes that Summit County Council "must have a clear understanding of the net benefit before giving their approval" to a sin tax issue to support the proposed soccer stadium complex.

Summit County Council unanimously approved a tax increment financing agreement with a developer planning to build a road as part of a senior housing complex in Macedonia. City Council has not voted on the proposal.

Yesterday, a resolution for a sin tax to support the proposed Summit County soccer stadium complex was introduced in Summit County Council. The 35-year tax on cigarettes, wine, and beer would be used to raise $100 million for the development of the 400 acre site in Macedonia and Northfield Center Township. The proposed tax will appear on the November ballot if it's approved by August 23.

Additional incentives beyond the approved $1.5 million sales tax rebate may be necessary to lure Bass Pro Shops to Akron. Other communities that have attracted stores offered infrastructure improvements, increased tax breaks, and site preparation work as incentives.

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord reports that the regional economic revenue study recently funded by the the Fund for Our Economic Future will be conducted by Myron Orfield and researchers at Cleveland State University and Lorain County Community College. They will analyze property tax sharing models and identify potential legislative changes.

Macedonia City Council is considering a proposed tax increment financing package for public improvements in a new senior housing complex.

Brian Cummins, the only Cleveland councilperson to vote against the residential tax abatement extension, says that the ordinance does not do enough to promote green building. "The bottom line is that we could have had a much stronger energy-efficiency component much quicker."

Developers are preparing plans for a 12 unit condominium building on Lorain Road in Fairview Park. They will ask the City for a seven year, 100% tax abatement.

As expected, Cleveland City Council voted to extend the existing residential tax abatement program until 2012. Starting in 2010, new housing construction must meet Energy Star standards to be eligible for abatements. Mayor Jackson said he was "very disappointed," but declined to say if he would veto the ordinance.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that City Council "helped not only Cleveland but also the whole region")

GreenCityBlueLake explores the potential for the City of Cleveland to tie residential tax abatements to green building practices, and asks, "Should council vote to renew tax abatements as is, or should it consider leveraging its position to get a green building policy as well?"

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development will hold a free training session on the Ohio Historic Tax Credit program on May 8 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Tri-C's Corporate College East. The seminar is free, but registration (PDF) is required.

Cleveland City Council is expected to disregard Frank Jackson's proposal to scale back the City's residential tax abatement program and extend the current policy of awarding 15 year abatements. Mayor Jackson has not indicated if he would veto the measure.

(Update: Channel 3's Tom Beres interviews Frank Jackson.)

Roldo Bartimole reacts to the recent Plain Dealer editorial about Mayor Jackson's residential tax abatement proposal, calling the piece "simplistic and disingenuous."

North Royalton leaders are preparing a tax increment financing package that will be used to support the planned Town Center District development. Mayor Luks and other officials will also attend the annual ICSC convention in Las Vegas next month to court prospective retailers.

Frank Jackson yesterday proposed scaling back Cleveland's residential tax abatement program. Tax abatements on new construction would be reduced from 15 to seven years, but houses that incorporate green building techniques or elder-friendly designs would be eligible for 12 year abatements. He also wants to extend tax abatements for rehabilitated homes from 10 to 12 years. Some City Council members are skeptical about making changes to the program, and developers oppose the proposed reduction.

(Update: a Plain Dealer editorial urges City Council to reject the proposal.)

Cleveland Municipal School District CFO James Fortlage told Cleveland City Council that the schools are "not opposed to some form of incentives," but would not indicate if district officials supported a renewal of the existing residential tax abatement policy.

Roldo Bartimole again denounces Cleveland's tax abatement policy, calling it unjust, "the narcotic of developers", and "a plague upon the body politic", and questions the tax abatement study conducted by CSU.

Several state officials have raised questions about whether the buildings at Steelyard Commons are eligible for tax abatements. "The exemption only applies to the land and the existing buildings on the property, not to new buildings on the property. There are exceptions that apply to new buildings," explained an Ohio EPA attorney.

At a land use law conference yesterday, speakers said that Greater Cleveland's tax structure and zoning policies turn the development process into an obstacle course.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges Cleveland City Council to extend the residential tax abatement program "without weakening it in any way."

A new report (PDF) from the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State concluded that the City of Cleveland's residential tax abatement program is increasing Cleveland's population and tax base. Dean Mark Rosentraub says that the program is working and should be retained. This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN discussed the subject with Rosentraub, Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman, Nate Coffman of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis.

On Monday, Wal-Mart announced that they would decline the tax abatement that their Steelyard Commons store received. City officials hope to convince Home Depot and Target to also forgo the tax break. In addition, Wal-Mart named Cleveland as one of nine communities selected as "Wal-Mart Jobs and Opportunity Zones." A Plain Dealer editorial says that Wal-Mart and First Interstate Properties did the right thing by giving up their tax abatements.

Euclid City Council President Ed Gudenas has proposed two options to encourage development in the southeast quadrant of the City. The first is the creation of an incentive zone that would give a .85% income tax rebate to companies that are willing to develop properties in that area. The second involves establishing a tax increment financing district.

A Plain Dealer editorial on the Steelyard Commons tax abatement news concludes that the shopping center "can yet be a win for this city" if the big-box retailers agree to turn down their tax exemptions.

Last month, state officials approved the creation of five Community Reinvestment Areas in Shaker Heights. Residents in the CRAs are eligible for 75% tax abatements for eight years when investing at least $80,000 in home repairs, and in four of the CRAs, new single-family houses over $200,000 are eligible for 75% tax abatements for five years.

Although the developer of Steelyard Commons in Cleveland claimed that it would not use public subsidies, big-box stores at Steelyard Commons will have tax abatements. Properties that successfully complete brownfields remediation through Ohio's Voluntary Action Program are automatically eligible for a 10 year tax abatement. Wal-Mart has been approved for the tax break and the Home Depot has applied for it. Taxes generated by the property were intended to fund the extension of the Towpath Trail through Cleveland.

(Update: recent legislation allows property owners to decline the tax exemption (PDF) or to discontinue existing exemptions.)

On Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN, Frank Jackson shared his thoughts on the Cleveland redevelopment strategy, capital improvement plan, and tax abatement policy. Also appearing on the show were Becky Gaylord of the Plain Dealer, Jay Miller of Crain's Cleveland Business, and Ward 11 Councilman Mike Polensek.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges Cleveland City Council to maintain its current tax abatement rules. Meanwhile, officials in Parma are trying to obtain financial compensation from a company that reneged on a tax abatement agreement by closing.

Several residential developers strongly urged the Cleveland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee to not alter the City's tax abatement policy. The current tax abatement ordinance will expire on June 15.

Developers of the Stonebridge project on the west bank of the Flats say that they would not be interested in building in Cleveland if the City withdrew its residential tax abatement policy. They hope to hope to begin construction of the development's next phase this spring.

The Parma School Board did not vote on a tax increment financing package for the planned Rockside Terrace development, disappointing the project's developers. Seven Hills City Council unanimously approved the agreement at a special meeting on December 31.

Governor Taft signed House Bill 149, enacting the historic preservation tax credit passed by the Ohio General Assembly last month. It will go into effect in 90 days.

A Plain Dealer editorial offers encouragement for Mayor Currin of Hudson's call for a regional tax sharing plan, calling it a "commendable and courageous step to try to ensure long-term economic health for all of Northeast Ohio."

Cleveland City Council is expected to consider scaling back the City's residential tax abatement program in June. Developers of some proposed projects reached agreements with the City which would allow them to retain the current 15 year, 100% abatements if the program is changed.

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