HUBER HEIGHTS — Huber Heights Mayor Tom McMasters and Council Member Tyler Starline sparred over a tax issue at Monday’s council meeting. Starline ended up winning the vote on the issue, but the fight appears far from over.
The issue is the creation of a tax increment financing (TIF) incentive district for Lexington Place, Quail Ridge and areas adjacent the Chambersburg and Fishburg Roads to State Route 202.
The city would use money generated by the TIF to improve Chambersburg and Fishburg roads to make them safer for children from new developments in the area who would be using those roads to go to school.
The TIF would change the tax collection rates for future property value increases in that area. The debate wasn’t over the existence of the TIF, but how the city schools would be approached about the TIF.
Basically, there are three options for the TIF district, two of which change the percentage of money received by the city and schools from properties that grow in value for a period of 10 years. One option, which the city has used in the past, is to request the schools approve a “70-30” plan, with 70 percent of growth in property taxes going to the city and 30 percent to the schools. Another is a “75-25” plan, which the city can implement without approval from the schools, which gives the city 75 percent and the schools 25 percent. Both those options result in the schools receiving less money from the taxes produced from growing property values than they would if the TIF were not created.
The third option, which McMasters called the “non-school” TIF, basically would allow the schools to collect a rate on new valuations similar to what they collect now.
McMasters is against presenting the “70-30” option to the schools in this specific case because he says it puts school board members in a difficult political situation. He is for the “non-school” option.
Starline and his fellow council members didn’t see it that way.
Starline said he thought McMasters was acting like “the sixth member of the school board without having been elected to that role.” He said he talked to a school board member and was comfortable with the resolution that was before council Monday, which would allow City Manager Rob Schommer to prepare legislation for the TIF and to inform the schools and other affected agencies about the plan.
Council Member Judy Blankenship expressed her support for the resolution and said school representatives are welcome to address the issue with council if they are unhappy with the plan.
Council members agreed and voted unanimously to pass the resolution, but there was a catch – Glenn Otto, Janell Smith and Richard Shaw had to leave the meeting early and were not present for the vote, so the resolution passed 5-0. The city’s charter says there must be six yes votes to prevent or override a veto. McMasters promptly promised to veto council’s action. If he does so, council will go back to the drawing board. Six council members could override the veto or changes could be made in the resolution. That action would likely take place at the next council meeting.
After the meeting, McMasters said he wasn’t against the TIF, but thinks the resolution should specify the “non-school” TIF and reiterated his promise to veto the current resolution.
In other action Monday night, council:
- Heard a presentation from Five Rivers Metro Parks Planning Manager Eric Sauer on the master plan for Carriage Hill Park. Future changes at the park include expanded equestrian facilities, renovation of the visitors’ center, creation of an event center and facilities for overnight events and new access points to the park for bikers and walkers.
- Passed to third reading an ordinance that would allow operation of a food truck at 7851 Old Troy Pike.
- Passed to third reading the 2018 budget.
- Approved the city’s five year capital improvements plan. The vote was 7-1 with Smith voting no.
- Approved a number of resolutions for expenditures, including authorizing spending limits with Judy Holtvogt of GTGis for GIS mapping services; funds for maintenance and service of electronic equipment; spending limits with K.E. Rose for police division vehicle maintenance; the purchase of items for the Public Works Division; purchase of asphalt and road salt for the Public Works Division; and authorization for the city manager to advertise for vendors for gasoline and diesel fuel.
- Heard resident Theresa Darr say she has not received information she requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Darr told council 13 months ago she requested information about “notes, documents, emails, voice mails, letters, videos and any and all types of communications” for council members, the mayor, city manager, assistant city manager and council clerk from April 10 to June 15, 2016. She said she has not received the information. Clerk Tony Rodgers said the city feels it has responded adequately to the requests and directed questions to independent legal counsel Scott Lieberman.
- Heard from Jason Wilson of the Paragon Development Group, whose application for a Level 2 marijuana cultivation facility recently was approved by the state. Wilson has made arrangements for a site on Executive Boulevard in Huber Heights for his facility, but asked council for changes in the 1,000-foot buffer requirement before he makes what he said would be a $993,000 investment in the facility. City Law Director Jerry McDonald told Wilson there is a proposal currently before the planning commission and it must pass through that commission before council can act on it.
City Council’s next work session will be Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. at city hall. The next council meeting will be Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. at city hall.
Reach Dave Lindeman at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.