TOLEDO — After several months of planning and discussion, the Toledo City Council fully approved the city’s urban renewal plan after a public hearing, with some final adjustments to accommodate requests from other affected taxing districts.
During the Wednesday, Aug. 25, meeting held via Zoom, the council received a presentation from its urban renewal consultant, Elaine Howard, and considered requests from the Port of Toledo and the Greater Toledo Pool Recreation District to have input on any of the city of Toledo’s urban renewal projects before approving the plan.
Howard began her presentation by stressing that an urban renewal district does not create new taxes and instead reallocates existing taxes from taxing districts in the area. Much of that money will come from regular increases in a property’s assessed value made after the establishment of the districts, which is diverted from the existing tax districts.
“The impact is for the other taxing districts, including the city itself. It does not provide new money, it just diverts funds that would normally go to those districts that come from regular increase to assessed value,” Howard said.
A “frozen” rate is created by a tax assessor to establish what funds will continue to go toward existing taxing districts, while any additional funds from normal property tax increases get diverted to the urban renewal fund.
Howard noted that the process for reassessing a property’s value happens irrespective of the urban renewal district and often comes from property owners making additions to their property, such as renovations or new structures.
For an urban renewal district, rates are usually increased naturally as different projects create infrastructure that facilitate growth in the affected areas. This might include creating fixed assets at businesses in the area, such as a non-removable industrial cooking station in a restaurant; adding infrastructure like solar panels; and other projects.
Two prior discussed urban renewal projects include relocating the city’s public safety office to a new renovated building and renovating city hall. Utility projects, recreation opportunities and pedestrian improvements were also listed as high priorities.
After discussion, the city council addressed the port and pool district’s request by giving them an opportunity to give input on projects during the city’s annual budget meetings. The city will send annual letters to both entities encouraging them to send a representative to the budget committee meetings where they will be able to review any future urban renewal projects. Input was also encouraged during the city’s annual meeting with both districts, though it was noted the budget hearings would be a better time to give input.
The districts will only be able to give input, and the city won’t require their approval to proceed with any projects.
There was some discussion as to whether the plan should be worded to simply include all involved taxing districts, but the council ultimately decided it would be easier to amend the plan in the future to include any districts that wanted to provide input. Additionally, the city will be required to send an annual report to all involved taxing districts.
Toledo City Manager Judy Richter said it might be several years before any input would even be necessary, as the district will need time to generate funding before it can actually begin any projects.
Mayor Rod Cross added, “For some years, especially these first couple years, there won’t be anything because there won’t be any money.”
The plan was approved by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, another affected taxing district, during its Aug. 18 meeting.
The full plan is available as part of the meeting’s agenda packet and can be viewed at https://www.cityoftoledo.org/citycouncil/page/city-council-work-session-public-hearing. Audio of the meeting is also available.
Other notable items from the work session:
• The council received a presentation from Don Thomason, vice president of sales for Sustainable Renewable Energy Utility Systems (SREUS), a company that is developing water treatment systems that will create drinkable water and electricity from sewage, biofuel, oil wastewater and other toxic materials.
Following the presentation, the council came to a consensus to pursue federal and state funds to bring such a system to Toledo, as well as look into the prospect of Toledo becoming home to a manufacturing site to develop such systems for other cities.
More information about SREUS is available on the company’s website at https://sreusenergy.com/about-us.
• The council authorized a $57,000 expenditure to help purchase a Dodge Durango to serve as a patrol car at the Toledo Police Department.
• The council authorized city staff to seek grant funding for a housing needs analysis for the city.