Thursday, June 19, 2003

Center augurs well for Monroe's future

Suburban insider

Despite recent revelations of financial problems in Monroe, city officials can still point to the likelihood of brighter economic days on the horizon.

Michigan-based Taubman Centers Inc., developers of the planned "Monroe Center," unveiled plans for the giant mall at last month's International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas.

Mark Bulmash, Taubman's group vice president for development, said plans for the mall have slowed "because the economy continues to be an issue." But, he added, "we are continuing to pursue that project" and the company is working to land up to five anchor department stores to accompany an estimated 150 retailers planned for the mall that would be located southeast of the Interstate 75 and Ohio 63 interchange.

The 1.1 million-square-foot mall is likely to be Monroe's largest employer, creating more than 1,700 jobs.

Jay Stewart, director of development for Monroe, said that despite the city's budget problems, future development should be strong because of the city's strategic location halfway between Cincinnati and Dayton. .

Michael Clark

Cincinnati council members aren't the only ones up for re-election in the coming months, and they're not the only ones who are going to be talking tax cuts.

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune held up the proposed 2004 tax budget Wednesday because it didn't include several longstanding proposals of his that he says would reduce taxes on a $100,000 home by about $16 a year.

The tax budget is a formality to certify that the county needs the money it collects. Specific, binding decisions don't have to be made until October.

No matter. Portune, up for re-election in 2004, took a stand for lower taxes. Then, Commissioner Phil Heimlich - not up for re-election until 2006 - decided not to vote for it, either.

"If we vote different ways on this, the public may get the mistaken impression that some of us want to lower taxes and some of us don't," Heimlich said.

County staff has until early July to write a new tax budget that incorporates Portune's proposals.

Cindi Andrews

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