Hilliard City Council on July 8 adopted a tentative tax budget for 2014, and it currently estimates small increases in both general-fund expenses and income-tax revenue.
The tax budget was one of five legislative actions during a 24-minute session, the final scheduled meeting before City Council's summer recess. Regular meetings will resume Aug. 26.
Ohio Revised Code requires that each Ohio municipality and township, by July 15 of each year, adopt an estimated tax budget for the following year.
The tax budget is an estimate and often amended before a final operating budget is adopted later in the year.
Finance Director David Delande said he estimated a 3 percent increase in general-fund expenses for personnel in 2014, and estimated a 5 percent increase for income-tax revenue, which constitutes most of Hilliard's general-fund revenue.
Based on the expected increase in the number of employees at the Verizon office building at 5000 Britton Parkway and other projections for job growth in the city next year, Delande called the estimated 5 percent increase in income-tax revenue "conservative."
For 2014, the city's general-fund revenue is estimated at $21.1 million, and general-fund expenditures are estimated at $20.7 million.
In other business July 8, City Council members adopted resolutions accepting utility easements and public infrastructure for the latest phases at the Anderson Meadows and the Estates at Hoffman Farms subdivisions, and a resolution amending the city's five-year capital-improvements program.
The capital-improvements resolution adopted July 8 appropriates no money, but reprioritizes and adds new programs, Mayor Don Schonhardt said.
Those projects included two associated with Landmark Lofts, a mixed-use residential and retail development at Cemetery Road and Franklin Street: improvements to Franklin Street and the extension of the Heritage Trail, which has a trailhead near Columbia Street, southeast across Cemetery Road.
City Council opted to wait until Aug. 26 to take up the issue of a proposed revision to a tax-increment financing district for Landmark Lofts.
The two ordinances required to amend the existing TIF were introduced July 8 and advanced to a second reading and public hearing Aug. 26. A related resolution was tabled to allow it to be considered at the same time as the ordinances.
"There are some questions and the public hearing should be engaging," President Brett Sciotto said before asking whether City Council wanted to discuss the issue July 8.
No City Council members responded and the ordinance was held over for its second reading Aug. 26.
A parcel TIF is already applied to the Landmark Lofts, but city officials want to convert into an "urban development" TIF.
A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Department of Development.
A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting the incremental revenue to the designated uses, such as funding the necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.
In an urban development TIF, a portion of the redirected revenue can be used for on-site improvements aimed at remedying blight.
In the Landmark Lofts case, a maximum of $4.5 million of property tax currently would be redirected to fund improvements. If the terms of the proposed urban development TIF were applied, about $2.2 million of that revenue will be used for on-site improvements, including the transformation of an inoperable grain silo into a 7,000-square-foot community center and support services facility for Landmark Lofts residents.
Some city officials previously voiced skepticism and concern about using TIF revenue for private development.
City Council also held a first reading of an ordinance to rezone 13.3 acres on the south side of Hayden Run Road, just east of Leppert Road.
Epcon Communities proposes to build 50 condominiums called the Courtyards at Hayden Run.
Hilliard Planning and Zoning Commission members, in a split vote, approved the rezoning June 13. Neighbors also spoke out in opposition of the development.
A second reading and public hearing is scheduled Aug. 26.
Prior to the City Council meeting, members of the Lifelong Community Enrichment Committee forwarded a resolution authorizing Hilliard Recreation and Parks Director Steve Mazer to contract for the construction of new tennis courts at Alt Field, adjacent to the Hilliard Municipal Building, 3800 Municipal Way.
The engineer's estimate for the construction of the tennis courts is $45,700.
Hilliard officials have applied for and received a reimbursable grant for $30,000 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that will pay for approximately two-thirds of the construction cost.
Hilliard has solicited bids for the project and will open the bids July 25.