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Ohio lawmakers approve bill to forgive Youngstown's debt on arena

Published: Sat, May 26, 2012 @ 12:06 a.m.

By David Skolnick



Legislation to forgive $4.75 million in delinquent taxes and penalties owed by the city for its Covelli Centre and to make the facility tax-exempt for as long as Youngstown owns it is just a governor’s signature away from becoming law.

An amended House Bill 508, which includes the Covelli Centre tax provisions, was approved Thursday by the Ohio House in a 96-0 vote. The state Senate approved it Tuesday 29-2.

Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign the bill in the next few weeks.

“It’s great news,” said Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone. “I don’t know where we’d find $4.75 million.”

Sammarone said he wanted to thank the state legislators from Mahoning County and “when it’s all over, I’d like to thank the governor.”

A provision in the 38-page bill was specifically written for Youngstown.

“The bill authorizes a property-tax exemption for a convention center or arena owned by the largest city in a county with a population between 235,000 and 300,000. Under the act, the convention center or arena may be leased to or operated or managed by another person and still qualify for the exemption, as long as it is owned by a qualifying city.”

The bill “also provides for the abatement of unpaid taxes due in regard to an application for exemption of a qualifying convention center or arena if the application or an appeal from the denial of an application, is pending on the bill’s effective date.”

Senate Assistant Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni of Boardman , D-33rd, said, “It stayed in the bill, and it’s going to the governor. I’m pretty excited about it. The Covelli Centre is the key to growth in downtown. Without the Covelli Centre, it would hurt businesses downtown.”

The Ohio House Ways and Means Committee approved a provision on April 24 by an 8-7 vote to include the provision in the bill. It was approved by the full House a day later.

The Ohio Department of Taxation rejected the city’s longstanding request last month for tax-exempt status for the center and wanted the $4.75 million in delinquent taxes and penalties from Youngstown.

The city appealed the decision, but also asked state legislators from the area to get a waiver from the General Assembly.


1biggee(43 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

This is why you were sent to Columbus. This is an example of "fighting for the good people" of the valley. Too many times elected officials use their positions to draw attention to themselves for their gain. When you run to join every protest from fracking to the govenor with a picket sign you are not fighting for us. You look ridiculous. Again hats off to gerberry and schiavoni . Good job and now let's have more of it.

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Real good news for the Youngstown Public Schools... NOT!

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3TylerDurden(367 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Youngstown is like the slow offspring of the litter. You know you will have to treat them differently and likely coddle them their entire lives. They won't be able to live totally independently and will constantly make egregious mistakes that need to be forgiven. In the end, though, they try hard, and that's all one can ask for from a runt.

The Covelli Centre is still in deep trouble because it is no where near being able to service the debt on the original building price.

I applaud Kasich for helping out an area that predominantly hates him and Mayor Sammarone for realizing where his bread is buttered in this instance.

I hope Schiavoni gets over the sickness that is obviously affecting his brain.

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4redeye1(5514 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

The D party caused this problem , now they are taking credit for solving it. WOW! Why wasn't this problem taking care of in the beginning. Because no one in the D party probably even thought of it. Schiavoni and Gerberry and Buckwheat are now walking around with their chests all expanded saying how they are working for this area. I guess its better late then never!!!

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5chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

A republican Senate and a republican Governor should be applauded for bailing out a Democrat fiasco. Now if only the evil bank would forgive the mortgage, the Chevy would run at a pofit. Oh wait profit is a bad word. Give Ryan a better deal to eat up any profits.

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