‘It’s really nasty to do this to a local business’: Monroe to revoke tax deal for Rivertown Brewery

Monroe plans to revoke the Community Reinvestment Area agreement and tax abatement for Rivertown Brewery Company, LLC, that was granted in May 2016.

Council will take final action on revoking the tax agreement at its Aug. 11 meeting.

All tax abatements granted by a city are reviewed annually by the Butler County Tax Incentive Review Council to ensure compliance with the agreement, such as creating jobs and no delinquencies. In addition, because Monroe is located in two counties, the Warren County Tax Incentive Review Council reviews agreements in that part of the city.

The CRA agreement for Rivertown Brewery was the focus of a review on May 21 by the Butler County Tax Incentive Review Council that was triggered when Rivertown failed to pay its first half Butler County property taxes in February 2020.

Rivertown had a payment plan with Butler County for unpaid property taxes. As a result of the nonpayment and a failure to make the April payment, the existing Butler County payment plan for previously due taxes that had not been paid is no longer valid.

“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.”

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