Tuesday, May 24, 2016

North Canton CRA Property Tax Abatements Undermine Our Schools and Enrich Corporate Interests and Multi-millionaires

Prepared Comments Made to
May 23, 2016

           I would like to recite the children’s story of Chicken Little that we remember from our youth as a learning aid to the current discussion on the proposed expansion of the City’s CRA.

           Chicken Little woke up one morning and went for a walk in the town where she lived. While walking, an acorn from a tall oak tree fell and hit her on the head with a PLUNK!  
“The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” she yelled. “I must run and warn the King!”  
On the way, she ran into Henny Penny. “Chicken Little, what’s wrong?” asked Henny Penny. 
“The sky is falling, the sky is falling! We must run and warn the King!” cried Chicken Little…. 
“I will run with you!” said Henny Penny. So Chicken Little and Henny Penny ran together…. 
[And so on and so on] until Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey all ran together. Soon they ran into Foxy Loxy.  
“You will be safe in my den,” said clever Foxy Loxy. “You can hide in there. I will run and tell the king.” 
So Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey followed Foxy Loxy to his den. They were never seen or heard from again.

          The moral in this story is that when something happens, one should not believe
whatever first comes to one’s mind to be the cause or believe the first possible 
option to be true. 

          The story of Chicken Little teaches us to think before jumping to conclusions. 

          How can this Council conclude that North Canton is so blighted that the sky is falling? Investment in North Canton is not discouraged as the statute requires for the creation of a CRA. 

          The Main Street trailer park that has been described as blighted did not discourage investment in that area. This is evidenced by the fact that O-Reilley Auto Parts and CVS Pharmacy both built on property abutting the trailer park. 

          The property tax abatement given for North Ridge Place, the 40 unit apartment complex built on the former site of the trailer park was unconscionable. The abatement, 100% for fifteen years, amounts to $59,129, in 2015 dollars, per year, will total close to a million dollars over the term of fifteen years. 

          The property may be residential in nature, but it is investment property that will result in the diversion of needed funds to the North Canton City Schools. The North Canton library and several North Canton levies also will not receive the revenue earmarked for them in the distribution of property taxes.

          North Canton’s CRA is an affront to the taxpayers of the City as it is being administered to forgive taxes on properties owned by corporations and multi-millionaires. These individuals and entities are high net worth individuals who can easily absorb the payment of property taxes into their business activities. 

          I have a handout to leave with you that shows the unfortunate stakeholders in the loss of the property taxes you are abating. 

         The North Canton City Schools are the major loser in this expansion of the CRA program. Ordinance 32-2016 will bring riches to the rich, but financial decline to our City Schools. 

         Mr. Griffith, you have repeatedly stated that the schools will realize a boost in revenue when the terms of these abatements run their course. 

         Could you or anyone on this Council live without a raise in salary for the next 10 or 12 or 15 years? That is what you are asking the North Canton City Schools to live with. 

         Do not be a casualty like Chicken Little, Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, or Turkey Lurkey. 

         The sky is not falling! If North Canton properties are not maintained, there are zoning codes on the books to deal with those issues. 

         You cannot give away the lifeblood of the City as you are doing to get homeowners to maintain their properties. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne