Letter: CRAs are not free money

To the Editor:

The political opponent of Mayor Lee writes, downtown development is what Piqua needs and the city should take an active part in the Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs). This theme has been echoed by the unelected elitists for years, which resulted in enormous debt and negligence to services like the demise of the municipal swimming pool and the deterioration of the Hance Pavilion.

CRAs are not free money. The Community Reinvestment Areas Act notes, “Ohio’s Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) Program was created in 1977 and revised in 1994 in sections 3735.65-70 of the Ohio Revised Code, to promote revitalization in depressed areas by offering property tax exemptions for any increased property valuation that would result from renovation of existing structures or new construction activities within the area.” The source is https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/CDFS-1568).

Criteria for a CRA is: “Adopted local legislation must contain the statement that the area is one in which ‘housing facilities or structures of historical significance are located, and new housing construction and repair of existing facilities or structures are discouraged.’” The source is Ibid.

“The program works differently for commercial and residential projects. If a project involves the renovation or construction of residential buildings, the work is completed prior to submitting an application for tax incentives.” The source is Ibid.

CRA was designed to “Encourage Financial Institutions to meet credit needs of their community.” The source is https://www.fdic.gov/regulations/resources/director/virtual/cra.pdf.

Therefore, CRAs are “possible” tax abatements on invested refurbishment or on new construction of properties within a designated area approved for that purpose by a number of state offices, engineers, overseers, and even local school boards.

Piqua tried to do such maneuvers by labeling many neighborhoods in the city as “blighted” for funding, in 2006. Many home owners resented that designation because it lowered their property values by living in a city designated “blighted” neighborhood. The source is http://www.mvfairhousing.com/pdfs/2006-06-16%20Piqua%20Community%20Assessment%20Strategy.PDF.

The point is, these are the same old ideas that have been destroying Piqua for years by the unelected elitists; putting the tax payers deeper in debt for issues they have no control over or vote. Mayor Lee, Commissioners Grissom and Fogt have been working with the new City Manager Oberdorfer, who they hired without the unelected elitists’ nod, and the elected officials are finally paying close attention to Piqua’s finances and debt as evidenced by the recent resignation of the city’s finance director. The source is https://www.miamivalleytoday.com/2021/07/15/piqua-finance-director-removed-from-position/.

Why would you want to change that?

— Terry D. Wright