All Things Business, Schools

Mansfield To Consider CRA Program; Idea Shared With Schools

29 Apr , 2020  

By: 1812Blockhouse Staff

A program that once provided a boost to downtown Mansfield is being considered again.

The Mansfield City Schools Board of Education virtual meeting on Tuesday evening included a conversation between “town and gown.” City of Mansfield Economic Development Director Tim Bowersock was a participant, and shared with board members the news that Mansfield City Council will be considering creation of a new Community Reinvestment Area, or “CRA,” program at its next full Council meeting.

It might be more correct to term this as a resurrection of sorts, as Mansfield did have a CRA program that was allowed to lapse back in 2007.

As described by Bowersock, CRA programs by abating taxes on the value of new investment made by owners and developers. The program would be in place for industrial, commercial, and residential projects, and also for both new construction and remodeling.

Bowerosck referenced a recent NECIC-conducted study which demonstrated that the community is lagging in new housing and new commercial buildings.

A CRA agreement, executed between the City and the recipient of abatement, allows for up to 200% of taxes on new value added to be abated, with no impact whatsoever to the existing tax base. For commercial and industrial projects, the schools are required to be notified and have a statutorily-set period in which to provide comment.

The typical result of that communication between the parties is the development of a “school compensation agreement,” through which the school district impacted would receive a portion of what they would receive without the abatement – directly from the person receiving that abatement. Typically, Bowersock added, that amounts to between 35% and 40% of the abated taxes.

When used in the past, the Mansfield CRA had perhaps its greatest impact in the downtown area, Bowersock mentioned. At one point, many of the Engwiller Property buildings along North Main Street in the Carrsouel District were subject to CRA agreements, among some 140 properties impacted in the central part of the city.

Benefits would run to the schools and to key parts of the city, especially the North End, Bowersock said. “It’s a good program for all,” he suggested, and is very similar to the City’s successful Enterprise Zone program. “We’ve done that effectively for the last 20 years,” he said.

There are other north central Ohio communities with active CRA programs. Some years ago, the City of Galion enacted a city-wide CRA, which has resulted in several investment projects including a new apartment complex being built on the city’s northwest side.

Mansfield City Council will consider program enactment at its May 5 meeting.

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