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Published: 8/28/2003

Historic tax incentive under review

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

If Perrysburg City Council approves a tax-increment financing agreement for a mixed-use development project at Levis Commons, it would be the first such tax incentive in the city's history, officials said.

The council is expected to consider whether to approve the TIF agreement during its Tuesday meeting at the municipal building.

As proposed, the tax-increment financing agreement would divert property taxes for 10 years from 116 acres in the eastern portion of J. Preston Levis Commons along State Rt. 25 and I-475. The tax money would be used to repay a variety of infrastructure and road improvements for the Town Center at Levis Commons.

This agreement is unusual because the city would have no direct expense or financial liability for the construction of any of the TIF-related improvements, said Kim Klewer council president and chairman of council's economic development committee. Dillin Development would be liable for all of the costs for the improvements, he said.

Historically, the city does not offer property tax abatement for retail or residential development, officials said. This abatement is “unique” because the property taxes from the land normally would be paid to Perrysburg Township in accordance with an agreement with Levis Commons, the city, and the township.

Township officials have no official say on whether the city approves the tax incentive, but Mr. Klewer said that out of courtesy, he asked the trustees earlier this year about the matter, and the trustees approved the diversion of what would be the township's property tax dollars for this purpose.

Although the city has heard some concerns over whether Perrysburg is playing favorites by offering such an incentive to Levis Commons, Mr. Klewer said that similar tax incentives could be available for other projects on annexed land covered by the tax-revenue sharing agreement with the township. However, he pointed out that approval would not be automatic. Each project would be considered on its own merits, he said.

“This is another economic development tool we can offer,” Mr. Klewer said.

The Levis Commons TIF agreement, he said, is particularly attractive because with it, the city can assist in economic development while not incurring any financial obligation or absorbing any additional debt.

Mayor Jody Holbrook said he welcomes the opportunity to promote economic development and bring new jobs to the city. The city, he said, will benefit from payroll taxes paid by the employees at Levis Commons.

In May, 2001, plans for an upscale town center, featuring retail shops, restaurants, offices, and a residential neighborhood were unveiled during a special meeting in Perrysburg council chambers.

Designed as a “destination place,” the multi-phase, multi-use center was hailed by developers as the front door and heart of Levis Commons, and city officials described the proposed town center as a catalyst for the 200-acre Levis Commons development.

Projected cost for the town center project is about $53 million. The amount of property taxes that will be diverted will be about $4.7 million, Mr. Klewer said.

Some city officials noted last week that the town center project hasn't moved forward as planned since 2001, but Mr. Klewer said that “all things indicate it is going to happen very soon, which is exciting.”

Councilman Mark Hummer said that he's satisfied with the progress being made, and if the TIF passes, he hopes it spurs what appears to be a good project that will benefit the city and the region.



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