EAST PALESTINE City sees results from property tax breaks

EAST PALESTINE -- A property tax-break program the city implemented two years ago seems to be picking up steam, one official says.
City council passed an ordinance in April 2003 offering property tax abatements for residential, commercial and industrial properties.
City Manager Gary Clark said the goal was to encourage more people to locate in East Palestine. The city lost more than 150 residents between 1990 and 2000, according to census figures.
"That was a blow to our dignity more than anything else," Clark said. "It had been a gradual decline. We wanted people to look at this as an opportunity to settle here."
How it works
For residential properties, owners get a 100 percent abatement of their property taxes for five years if they build a home.
A 10-year abatement also is available for remodeling homes, but only if the remodeling cost exceeds $5,000 and substantially increases the taxable value of the home, Clark said.
Owners pay taxes on the lot, but not on the new or remodeled home. They also must continue paying taxes on the property that existed before remodeling.
The program is offered to municipalities through the Ohio Department of Development.
Value of construction
Clark said that for who owners applied and participated in the program in 2003 the total value of abated construction that year was $277,000.
Last year, one commercial property was built, at a value of about $100,000, and 11 residential properties were built with a total value of some $1.3 million.
So far this year, a dozen owners have applied for the abatement. Clark did not have an estimated amount of the construction for this year.
How to get it
Residential applications must be filed with the city's housing officer no later than six months after construction is completed.
For commercial or industrial property, the percentage of the tax exemption is considered on a case-by-case basis, Clark said. They can receive up to a 12-year or 15-year abatement.
Clark said the city school board did not oppose the abatement program.
"They were in favor of anything that grows the community because that grows the enrollment for the schools," Clark said.
Schools Superintendent Jeff Richardson was out of the district and unavailable to comment.

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