Five years after setting up a program to offer a tax break to the developers of the city’s downtown movie theater, Ravenna is pulling the idea of a community reinvestment area off the back burner.
Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee decided to move forward with an agreement with Bricker & Eckler, a consulting firm that specializes in community reinvestment areas. Mayor Frank Seman said the contractor, recommended by Economic Development Director Dennis West, would take a look at the city and help recommend what areas might be best for the program.
The program would allow property owners to seek and receive tax breaks on improvements to their structures. They would still pay taxes on the value of the property before the improvements.
Although industrial property owners can seek an “enterprise zone” tax abatement for improvements they make, there is no such incentive in place for residential or commercial property owners. A “pilot program,” which applied only to the Ravenna theater, was approved in 2016.
Seman said the consultant, who would charge an hourly fee, would help the city determine the best places to expand such areas. The same contractor has worked with Streetsboro, he said.
“We have other people who feel they can take advantage of this and it would help us with expansion of businesses in the downtown area.”
Councilman Rob Karis suggested the possibility of a CRA for the entire city.
“I really hope that there’s a consideration that regular homeowners, not just businesses, and not just businesses downtown, get to participate,” he said. “I don’t see any downside in it … the more tools that we can give them to improve their homes and maybe save a few bucks on their taxes, I think is worthwhile and something to consider.”
Seman said he wants the firm to look at “everything” involved in the program, including getting approval from the county.
“That’s why we want this guy to show us how we bring these folks together,” he said.