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Monday, February 2, 2015

City Council Debates Flats East Bank Sales Tax Hike

Posted By on Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 3:35 PM

click to enlarge Ernst & Young, looming over the in-progress Flats East Bank properties - ERIC SANDY / SCENE
  • Ernst & Young, looming over the in-progress Flats East Bank properties
City Council’s amalgamated Development, Planning and Sustainability Committee & Finance Committee looked into the community authority proposal coming out of the Flats East Bank district, which would see an extra 1.5-percent sales tax tossed onto transactions in the future.

“Developers made a decision to make these charges,” Economic Development Director Tracey Nichols said, bucking culpability off the city. The idea, she continued, would be to tax the visitors who will come and “use” the district, rather than the forthcoming residents. She cited an obscure Butler County “Crocker Park-esque-type development” as another example of this sort of tax working to fund commercial and residential improvements in Ohio.

Council members pushed back, though ultimately hinted collectively at passing the measure this evening.

“We all know that the most regressive tax on poor people is the sales tax,” Councilman Zack Reed said. “What we’re saying to those poor people is if you come in this district you’re now going to be charged even more.” He was referring to the Flats East Bank’s hotels and restaurants, which will and do employ lower-wage service workers (the idea being that these workers will inevitably, like, purchase lunch or other items during the course of their workday). 

“This is impacting buildings that aren’t built yet...and we’re [imposing taxes], and that’s concerning,” Councilman Martin Keane added.

March 22 is the deadline for the Flats East Bank petition, which puts City Council in sort of a fast-tracked subordinate role (especially since legislators must pass their ordinance 30 days prior to that deadline). We'll update the story after tonight's regular meeting of council takes place.

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