Wapakoneta councilors unanimously agreed Monday night to establish incentives to attract new businesses by designating a community reinvestment area.
The City of Wapakoneta Reinvestment Area was incorporated as the municipal corporation of the city in its entirety. The move allows the city to attract new businesses by offering additional incentives in the form of tax abatements. The investment area also is to allow for abatements for remodeling existing residential dwellings. However, councilor Tom Finkelmeier said the primary focus of the move was made to initiate jobs.
“The intent is to drive job creation,” he said.
With the new formation, existing commercial and industrial properties would be able to apply for up to a 100-percent property tax abatement for up to 12 years for remodeling projects with a cost of at least $20,000. Also, businesses with new construction would be able to apply for up to a 100-percent property tax abatement for up to 15 years. Homeowners wishing to remodel would be able to apply for up to a five-year property tax abatement for remodeling work of at least $10,000.
All terms and percentages will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The investment area would be able to allow up to a 50-percent abatement without approval by the Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education. Any abatements over 50-percent would need to be approved by the school board. Traditionally, school boards and prospective businesses have worked out in-kind cash donation deals in exchange for approving abatements in excess of 50 percent in other reinvestment areas around the state.
The ordinance also established two governing bodies to oversee the applications and their fulfillment. The Community Reinvestment Area Housing Council is to consist of two members appointed by the Wapakoneta mayor, two members appointed by council, and one member appointed by the city planning commission. The council is to be responsible for inspecting the properties annually when an exemption has been granted.
The Tax Incentive Review Council is to consist of three representatives appointed by the Auglaize County Commissioners, two representatives appointed by the mayor with council concurrence, the county auditor or designee, and a member of the Wapakoneta City Schools Board of Education. This council is to be responsible for annually reviewing the compliance of all agreements involving the granting of abatements and is to make written recommendations to the council as to continuing, modifying or terminating the agreement based on the performance.
Finkelmeier said the move wasn’t made as an instant economic positive, but rather as another tool councilors have in spurring job growth.
“It isn’t a be-all-end-all solution,” Finkelmeier said. “But it gives us another tool. It closes a gap in our portfolio.”