Franklin school board approves agreement for Middletown subdivision

The Franklin Board of Education on Monday approved a residential Tax Increment Financing agreement with the city of Middletown for the new Sawyer’s Mill subdivision project, which will produce more revenue for the district in the coming decades.

The board approved the residential TIF agreement by a 4-0 vote. Board Member Andrew Flemming was not at Monday’s board meeting. The approval of the TIF agreement will now go to Middletown City Council for final consideration and approval at its Nov. 5 meeting.

Franklin board President Lori Raleigh said the board had taken its time to review the proposed agreement and called it “ground-breaking.”

“There were a lot of unanswered questions. But at the end of the day, it comes down to dollars and more money for our community,” Raleigh said.

ExploreMORE: Franklin schools delays considering agreement for new Middletown homes

Board attorney Gary Stedronsky said the Franklin schools will receive 40 percent of the payments in years 1-10. He said the amount of the service payments is equal to the amount that would otherwise be paid in real estate taxes. Stedronsky said the district is entitled to 40 percent of what would otherwise be the total paid from tax bills in the TIF areas.

He said the total residential effective millage rate is 63.21 mills and that the school school portion of that is 36.81 mills. Under the agreement, the Franklin school district will collect on 25.284 mills in years one through 10. Stedronsky said that equates 68.7 percent of what it would otherwise be entitled to collect in years one through 10. In years 11 through 30, the Franklin district will receive 100 percent of its revenue.

Franklin Schools Superintendent Michael Sander said the TIF statute guarantees 25 percent of revenues, but the district was able to negotiate a higher percentage. Sander said negotiations between the school district and Middletown have been ongoing since last December.

Middletown is working to get the TIF agreement in place to build 16 or 17 additional new homes on 25 acres on the east side of the Sawyer’s Mill development near northwest of the intersection of Dixie Highway and Manchester Road. The area is inside the borders of the city of Middletown and the Franklin school district in Warren County.

The proposed TIF incentive district would require each property owner to pay a service payment in lieu of taxes that would go into a fund for approved infrastructure improvements.

MORE: Warren County opposes Middletown’s proposed residential TIF

The Warren County Commission has objected to the length and amount of exempted taxes that Middletown is seeking.

Commissioner David Young said the proposed agreement would cost township and county government general funds as well as other voted levies for libraries, senior services and developmentally disabled about $340,000 in the first 10 years.

Ohio law allows county commissions to object to the creation of TIF districts if the exemption is for more than 10 years, if the exemption percentage is more than 75 percent or both. If there is an objection, the county commission and the municipality can negotiate an agreement. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the municipality will provide the county commission compensation beginning in the 11th year of the exemption period.

ExploreMORE: Middletown closer to building new subdivision homes at Sawyer’s Mill

In 2016, the city was approached by Republic Development, the developer of the Sawyer’s Mill subdivision at the time, to reengage in a conversation about development.

City officials said the property had been through a lengthy and acrimonious court battle, ending in a consent decree, which stalled any new development. Republic had been talking to Ryan Homes, which had an interest in Middletown. After 2 1/2 years of meetings, negotiations with three different developers, and a new consent decree, city officials said there is now a path to move forward on the build out of this subdivision.

Construction of model homes could begin later this year with new home building beginning in 2020. The price range for the new homes will be between $150,000 and $220,000.

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