“The city has been working with Rivertown to better understand their challenges for quite some time,” said Jennifer Patterson, assistant to the city manager for economic development. “Unfortunately, we were not able to reach an agreement regarding an amended incentive arrangement between Rivertown and Monroe, and that’s what led to the legislation that City Council considered at their last meeting.”
Jason Roeper, Rivertown’s founder, said when the business first came to Monroe, city officials had the property reassessed and that information was sent to a former address in Lockland and not to the new address.
Roeper said he or his attorney was not permitted to attend a meeting with council to make any points for themselves.
The CRA agreement was for a 45% abatement on the annual property tax for five years, he said. In addition, Roeper said they were supposed to get a 100% abatement on the local 2% city income tax as part of their incentive.
“We haven’t seen any of that,” he said.
Roeper said they have questioned that assessment of 34,000 square-feet to the actual 25,876 square-feet of the building located at 6550 Hamilton-Lebanon Road. The company invested $5 million to build the taproom, restaurant and barrel house production facility that opened in January 2017.
“We challenged the assessment,” he said. “Then the city came back saying the business was not employing enough people. What do they want us to do? We’re in the middle of a pandemic and we can’t employ 87 people.”
Roeper said the attorney is challenging the assessment with the county Board of Revision and acknowledged there was little they can do about the CRA abatement from the city.
“It’s really nasty to do this to a local business,” Roeper said. “Even though the city is well within its rights, it’s wrong.”