Report, auditor’s online hub focus on Columbus tax incentive results

Want to know if a development in Franklin County received government tax breaks and whether it actually created the jobs, payroll and investment it promised?

There’s now a quick way to do that via a revamped website —  complete with interactive map — and a new report issued this month by Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano.

“Any member of the public can go out and look across the county at what tax incentives are being made in their community,” Stinziano said. “You can hover, look at a specific project and links to the local jurisdictions’ economic development folks. … We’re doing everything we can to hold folks accountable, that the promises made are being followed.”

As auditor, Stinziano heads the Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC), a panel required under state law and includes officials from county, municipal or township authorities that grant tax exemptions, school boards affected by the agreements and others.

Cities, villages, townships and counties establish and approve tax-exemption agreements. TIRCs meet annually to review whether job creation, payroll, capital investment and other requirements in those deals are being met and to make recommendations whether incentives should be continued, modified or canceled.

In Franklin County, the reviews typically take place between May and August, in advance of a Sept. 1 deadline required under state law. Stinziano released his detailed report of the latest review this week.

More:Franklin County commissioners seek tax-sharing on three residential TIF districts

Abatements and other financial incentives used by public officials to lure commitments for new or expanding developments have prompted plenty of public debate.

Business groups and others generally support the tax exemptions, saying they’re necessary to compete with other areas working to attract economic development projects.

Nate Green, executive director of the Ohio Jobs Alliance, said in testimony this year to the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee that “property tax abatements can address Ohio’s high tax and property costs and drive not just job creation but also local tax revenues.”

Opponents counter that the tax breaks aren’t having their intended effect and instead take needed revenues away from schools

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