XENIA — Despite some concerns from city officials, Xenia City Council Thursday approved a 5-year income tax rebate for the Greene County Career Center.
After collecting income tax from the annual payroll, expected to start at $7.4 million and cap at $8.2 million in the final year, Xenia will rebate 44 percent of that back to the career center, which applied for the rebate to help cover a payroll increase it gave to staff to offset first-time Xenia income tax deductions for most of its employees.
The city’s economic development advisory board voted unanimously to endorse the rebate and council approved it 5-0, with one absence and a recusal from Wes Smith who has a professional relationship with the career center.
City staff did not give a glowing endorsement, however.
Xenia is already facing a deficit where the project is concerned as it’s on the hook for water and sewer installation and the Innovation Way extension for five years, plus half the cost of a school resource officer. It was projected to have a negative net gain of more than $125,270 each of the five years before the rebate was factored in. With the rebate, the negative number is more than $206,000 each year.
Xenia will not see a net gain until 2026, when it’s projected to be $100,001 in the black. Finance Director Ryan Duke said he understands why it may not be the best decision for Xenia.
“There’s been a good bit of debate among the appointed officials and city staff,” Duke said. “I noticed there wasn’t a ringing endorsement there or prompting to approve this particular item. The city has spent a great deal of money on this project. We’re very much in the red.”
The water and sewer and Innovation Way costs are more than $1 million and Duke said it will take more than a decade to recoup all of that when looking just at that particular expense. He added that it took longer to agree with the career center on certain aspects, which made it more expensive.
“In our negotiations with them to make this happen, they prolonged the development agreement and ultimately cost us more money because we had to bid some of these things separately,” Duke said. “Several things happened to make it more costly.”
Duke also cited some strife between the city and career center when it came to trying to find additional development in that area in order to qualify for a state grant, development that never came to fruition.
“In our attempts to try to court a business to that site, we didn’t receive any cooperation from the career center, just to put it bluntly, in my opinion,” Duke said. “They weren’t helpful, in fact they worked against us being able to facilitate development at that site.”
Duke added that the career center wasn’t responsible for potential developers backing out but said the city needs a partner to facilitate and promote development “and not inhibit it.”
Mayor Sarah Mays said it was time to extend an “olive branch”
” … we’re better than that. Quite frankly we need to leave some of those things in the past and move forward,” she said.
Council member Tom Scrivens agreed.
“In the long run, we’ll come out ahead,” he said.