Last night one of my favorite anonymous contributors gave me a heads-up on a couple of ordinances that had been quietly placed on the agenda for the special Budget & Finance meeting tomorrow so that they can go to Council for a final vote by year-end. The Committee will be discussing 30-year 100% property-tax abatements for Gateway West in Queensgate (the old Holiday Office Park) and the Centennial Project near City Hall. Both are owned by Neyer Properties.
This is the email I’ve sent to all members of City Council today:
Please vote “no” on the Emergency ordinances related to 30-year abatement on the Gateway West Project and the Centennial Project, both owned by Neyer Properties.
This is a major departure from past practices where we are now allowing developers to use these huge subsidies as marketing tools for redevelopment without ever having to specify the specifics of the project. How can Cincinnati afford to write a blank check to pay for the infrastructure improvements that are associated with these deals? How can this be an emergency for the public good when we don’t even know what they are?
Over the last ten years, our city has experienced a frightening rate of subsidy creep – and yes, it has resulted in exciting development. But our risk is escalating exponentially and not all development ideas are good ones. It’s as though we are operating on the assumption that nothing will ever go wrong and that government is smarter than the free market. Our community needs to take more time to carefully consider the complexities inherent in real estate development and the public is offended at our intentional exclusion from these important decisions.
I’ve also started a moveon.org petition so we, the people, can at least go on record to say we want to be a part of this conversation about what we value and reward as a city. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/vote-no-on-no-specific?source=c.em&r_by=9746289
Here are City Council emails if you’d like to put in your 2 cents:
We’ve only got a few days to have an impact on this decision – but it’s a few days more than we’ve ever had before thanks to the attention of one anonymous citizen who checks City Council-on-line everyday, had the sense to open the documents when he saw them and tell me about it. That’s tedious, thankless work – but if he hadn’t done it we wouldn’t have a chance. Because he did we’ve got press coverage coming and an editorial in tomorrow’s Enquirer. Please do whatever you can to demand our local democracy honors its original intention and allows citizens to be a part of the process on these big, expensive decisions.
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