Sunday, April 25, 2004

Snag over TIFs is to protect property owners

Letter to the editor

A recent news story and accompanying editorial ("Free up Cincinnati's TIFs quickly," April 15) expressed concerns about an Ohio Department of Taxation decision to not approve applications filed by the city of Cincinnati for Tax Increment Financing districts in the city.

This response is to clarify why ODT cannot allow the TIF districts to go forward at this time. The primary reason is that Ohio law clearly states that the property owners in a proposed TIF district must file an application when requesting a real property tax exemption. In this case, the city filed the applications, not the property owners.

I certainly recognize how important TIF districts can be to local development efforts in Cincinnati and elsewhere. I also must recognize what the law requires, and that it is equally important to protect the rights of property owners, now and in the future. The owners of the property subject to a TIF would want to be aware that their property is subject to a TIF, because while a TIF is in place, the owner of the property would have to continue making payments in lieu of tax until the TIF expired. This would be the case even if the property were used in a manner that would exempt the property from tax, for example used for public worship.

I would like to assure the citizens of Cincinnati that I have been and will continue to have my staff working with the interested parties to try to find a solution to this issue.

William W. Wilkins, Ohio tax commissioner

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