Thursday, July 12, 2001

County will pursue abatements

Some firms reneged on tax deals

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County's Office of Economic Development will work with the prosecutor's office to come up with procedures to allow the county to get money back from companies that receive tax breaks but don't live up to their obligations.

        The county offers tax breaks to some companies as incentive to stay in, or move into, the county. But those companies have to either create a specified number of jobs or invest a minimum amount in property to receive the abatement.

        A recent audit of the program found that 26 companies did not meet their job creation or investment requirements. Another 19 companies, representing 28 abatement deals, did not respond to the audit as required by their contracts.

        The county has 121 such contracts.

        Bob Gates, development specialist for the office of economic development, which runs the program, said his office will bring each repayment case to the commissioners for approval before it asks for any cash.

        “First, we need to have standard operating procedures that will stand up to any challenges,” Mr. Gates said Wednesday.

        The procedures should be ready in about two weeks.

        Companies that receive tax abatements typically have a three-year grace period.

        Commissioners said they are willing in some cases to grant extensions, but they expect the companies to live up to their end of the bargain.


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