Hello Mt. Lookout –
We have some updates for you regarding tax abatements.
City Council members are now deliberating over proposed changes to the City’s tax abatement program and a vote will be coming up as early as next week. If you believe that tax abatements in Mt. Lookout should be reduced, now is the time to send your comments to council members.
The proposed changes are the product of the Property Tax Working Group, which was appointed by City Council to review issues and concerns regarding the current tax abatement program and propose solutions. Their efforts have resulted in a series of four recommendations:
There appears to be general support for the first three motions listed above. However, much discussion has been centering around tax abatement caps which limit the amount of abatements that can be granted. Current caps for new construction are as follows:
LEED Platinum - no cap, 15 yrs
LEED Gold - $562,000, 15 yrs
LEED Silver - $400,000, 15 yrs
LEED Certified - $275,000, 10 yrs
Based on input received from our community over the past several years, the MLCC board has been advocating to significantly lower the existing cap limits for new construction. We believe the existing limits (or lack thereof) are the driving force behind the intrusive practice of replacing small to moderately-sized, existing homes with new, out-sized homes throughout the community.1 The cost of these new homes are also significantly driving up the property taxes that neighbors have to pay while their own tax obligations are reduced significantly. As a result, we have increasing instances where a newly-built, $1.2 million 4,000 square foot home pays $5,000 annually in property taxes, but its neighboring 1930’s era 2,500 square foot homes pay between $10,000 and $15,000 in annual taxes.
Currently, there is a proposal being discussed to reduce the abatement caps to the following levels:
LEED Platinum - $650,000, 15 yrs
LEED Gold - $500,000, 15 yrs
LEED Silver - $400,000, 15 yrs
LEED Certified - $200,000, 10 yrs
While we would like to see these caps be even lower and a tiered system put in place,2 we believe supporting these caps is an important first step in correcting the disparities created by the existing tax abatement program.
Throughout our work on this issue, we've spoken to many councilmembers and their message to us has been the same: they want to and need to hear from residents as they work to reshape the tax abatement program. They have heard a lot from developers and home builders, but they need to hear from you too. To ensure your voice is heard, we strongly encourage you to do one or more of the following:
Call or send emails to City Council members and Mayor John Cranley outlining your position on tax abatements. Email addresses are provided in the gray box in this message, after the Tax Abatement Q&A.
Attend the Economic Growth and Zoning Committee on at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10. You can attend in person or virtually. To participate virtually, click this link. You can also sign up to speak regardless of whether you are participating in person or online.
The MLCC board will continue to stay involved in this conversation with the City. However, every voice matters and we wanted to be sure you had the opportunity to have yours heard.
The Mt. Lookout Community Council Board
1 The median listing price for a home in Cincinnati is between $165K and $200K. The median listing price for the Mt. Lookout area is between $450K and $550K, which is the highest of all of Cincinnati's 52 neighborhoods.
2 Long-term Residential Tax Abatement Policy recommendations made in the July 28, 2020 Motion 202000990, and adopted by City Council on Sept. 2, 2020, recommend that the City explore a tiered approach to tax abatements based on extensive study.
3 Cincinnati-based Invest in Neighborhoods empowers community councils and their resident members, volunteers, and related community organizations to contribute to civic life and advance the quality of life in Cincinnati’s neighborhoods, by increasing capacities and competencies, assisting with resources, and promoting civic engagement.