YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Now that all of Youngstown is a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA), new construction and some renovations will be property tax free for up to 15 years. But, the majority of those property taxes support schools, so some of the people running the schools are not happy that one of their primary funding sources is being cut.
Youngstown School Board member Jackie Adair talked about her displeasure with Youngstown City Council making the entire city a CRA.
“Where’s our return on our investment? We’re getting hosed, we’re getting hosed as taxpayers,” she said.
“We were surprised because we hadn’t known it was coming,” said Columbiana Schools treasurer Kathy Davies.
Davis said they were never consulted three years ago when Columbiana City Council approved making the entire city a CRA. The Youngstown School Board was not consulted either.
Now, people building new homes or businesses will pay no property tax in both communities for 15 years.
“That’s a large part of our income and we have the lion’s share of the real estate taxes and we were surprised to find out that we really didn’t have a say in that,” Davies said.
“So I think our city government is short-sighted. They have not talked to the board, we have not been able to. Let’s sit down and maybe we could work something out,” Adair said.
“So if someone pays less, someone is going to pay more,” said Mahoning County auditor Ralph Meacham.
Meacham said people not paying property taxes are still using the schools, libraries and parks.
“I would prefer to see a little more equity for the non-participants in these CRAs,” Meacham said.
Columbiana’s CRA has created a building boom in developments like Firestone Farms.
“But if we have families moving in that we’re having to educate those children, then you can see that’s a negative to us,” Davies said.
“They should have thought long and hard about what else can you do about bringing folks into the city, and it’s not about giving freebies,” Adair said.
Davies said CRAs were supposed to be used for depressed areas, but she doesn’t consider Columbiana depressed. Davies is going to study how much the CRA will cost the Columbiana School District and hopes to have it done in September.