Wednesday, May 12, 2004

West Chester strikes back


Trustees will put their own tax districts ahead of Butler's

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - With encouragement from Lakota Schools, township trustees plan a pre-emptive strike against the county's plan for special taxing districts on unbuilt subdivisions.

Trustees will meet Monday to approve tax-increment financing districts of their own on 10 subdivisions under construction - with approval of Lakota Schools.

County commissioners last Thursday gave Lakota Schools 14-day notice that they intended to create the special tax districts on five West Chester subdivisions.

Dan Warncke, a Lakota board member, told trustees he supported going with the township.

"This looks like a far better deal than what we'd get from the county. The township will have more districts, so that means more money for the schools," Warncke said.

The township plan was pushed by Trustee Catherine Stoker, who is running for county commissioner in November against Michael A. Fox, who authored the county's plan.

For years, Ohio communities have used tax-increment financing to pay for improvements in an area using anticipated increased tax revenues - the tax increment - from commercial and industrial areas.

Commissioners stunned Lakota and township officials Thursday by announcing they would create similar districts on unbuilt subdivisions - without discussing it in advance with local representatives.

The county had designated five developments: Foxborough, Reserves of Providence, Villages of Providence, West Chester Village and Keehner Meadows. The township includes those five, plus Treillage South and new housing along Hamilton-Mason, Beckett, Tylersville and LeSourdsville-West Chester roads.

Lakota had a "real trust issue with the county," Warncke said. Lakota has not received one penny of the $354,372 the county owes over five years from a tax-increment financing district encompassing Target, Home Depot and the University Physicians offices on Cox Road, said Alan Hutchinson, Lakota treasurer.

The county also has failed to negotiate a compensation agreement with Lakota on a similar district formed last September for a Wal-Mart superstore on Cincinnati-Dayton Road, Warncke said.

Trustees Jose Alvarez and George Lang and Warncke said they would have preferred not creating the new tax districts, which reduce future income from mental health, children's services, township police and other agencies supported by tax levies.

Sue Kiesewetter contributed to this report. E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com.




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