Friday, July 19, 2002

Commissioners take on Cinergy for Edgewood schools

By Steve Kemme,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The Butler County commissioners agreed Thursday to fight for the Edgewood School District in its battle with Cinergy over a 1999 tax abatement agreement.

        The 10-year tax abatement was given to Duke Energy as an incentive to build the Woodsdale power station. But Cinergy purchased the facility last year before it opened.

        Cinergy officials want the commissioners to transfer the tax abatement it had with Duke to their company. But Edgewood school officials have objected to the transfer, saying tax abatement is supposed to be used to attract new jobs and new businesses, not to subsidize business acquisitions.

        Cinergy and Edgewood school officials have been negotiating for a year on a possible settlement. But School Superintendent Tom York told the commissioners Thursday that Cinergy recently had backed off from previously agreed terms.

        The commissioners decided to send a letter to Cinergy outlining Edgewood's terms and giving Cinergy a deadline for reaching a settlement. Commissioner Courtney Combs said the county would file a lawsuit against Cinergy if necessary.

        “I would rather settle without going to court,” Mr. Combs said.

        Mr. York said he supported their strategy.

        “We're not interested in going to court either,” he said.

        Cinergy spokesman Steve Brash said he couldn't comment until he sees the letter.

        “We will review it and respond to the county,” he said.

        With the original abatement with Duke, Edgewood schools would receive $218,000 annually on the 10 percent of the Duke property not abated. Without the abatement, Edgewood receive an additional $1.1 million in property taxes after reductions from the state school funding formula.


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