City of Columbus makes changes to tax incentive policies

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Columbus City Council have announced a proposed overhaul of the city’s tax incentive policies intended to support affordable, mixed-use housing development. The new policies will also create a new wage standard for business developments.

Mayor Andrew Ginther said tax abatements and incentives are public resources. “They are one tool the city has to influence development and encourage affordable, mixed-use housing development in areas that need it most,” Ginther said.

Ginther said the new policies that will benefit neighborhoods and residents by spurring development of affordable housing and living wages. “For offering to leverage incentives and abatements for projects in this community, they have to help us, all of us do public good,” Ginther said.

The new incentives policies are designed to support affordable, mixed-use neighborhoods in the City’s existing post-1994 Community Reinvestment Areas. These neighborhoods will be placed in three categories based on the following criteria:  population growth, median household income growth, poverty rate, growth in median rent, housing vacancy, rate and mortgage foreclosure rate. An overview of incentives by area is attached.

The largest tax incentives will be offered to developers doing projects in neighborhoods with the most need. Residential developers in thriving areas like the Short North will be required to include a percentage of affordable housing.

Moving forward, the City will only provide incentives for jobs paying at least $15 per hour.

The policy changes are the result of recommendations from a study commissioned by the city to better understand the use of incentives. The consulting firm of HR&A presented recommendations to the City last summer.

Bruce Luecke, President and CEO of Homeport, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing said he welcomes the change. “Anything that we can do to help the economics of putting these deals together – which obviously lowers the cost – gives us the opportunity to do more,” Luecke said.

Councilmember Elizabeth Brown said the policy changes will help to maximize the benefits Columbus residents receive from tax incentive policies.

“When used properly, these incentives help encourage smart growth and attract quality jobs in our neighborhoods,” Brown said.

Columbus Development Director Steve Schoeny said the city is also committing to a more transparent process in how Jobs Growth Incentive and Job Creation Tax Credit rates and terms are determined.  The length and terms of those tax incentives will be determined by average hourly wage, number of new jobs, retained jobs and payroll and length of lease/ownership status of the facility.  Special consideration will be given to companies locating in Opportunity Ready neighborhoods, locating on former brownfield sites, and companies encouraging employment of difficult to employ populations.

Pending City Council approval, the new policies will take effect summer 2018.

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