Committee members questioned an unconventional proposal from Economic Development Director David Meeks on Nov. 4 at the Economic and Entrepreneurial Development Committee meeting, but the ordinance ultimately was forwarded to Hilliard City Council for a first reading.
Meeks introduced a single ordinance to establish a tax-increment financing district for three businesses.
City Council President Brett Sciotto questioned the practice of a multipurpose TIF, but more pointedly the inclusion of one of the businesses, a Motel 6 at 3950 Parkway Lane.
Meeks said the hotel is up for sale and the city wants a TIF in place to help attract a suitable buyer, specifically a buyer that would build a quality hotel at the site adjacent to Cemetery Road and Interstate 270.
Meeks said he has already identified potential buyers.
"I want to be able to tell (buyers) that if you deliver what we want, we are ready to approve tax abatements," Meeks said.
An urban-development TIF, which would be the city's third, also is a possibility, as city officials want a buyer to raze the Motel 6 and build a hotel suitable for one of the city's gateway entrances, Meeks said.
While Sciotto said he agreed with the plan for such a hotel, he questioned the policy of a "pre-emptive TIF."
"We want a quality hotel there; wouldn't it be tying our hands to put a TIF in place before we even know what would be built there?" Sciotto asked.
Meeks, referring to the proposed TIF as "transparent" and a "positioning TIF" said the city always has the option of proposing an incentive that could trump the TIF.
Meeks said city officials want the parcel to be redeveloped as a hotel to encourage tourism.
City leaders also look forward to related improvements, including reduced crime.
"There is a notable criminal element at the Motel 6," Hilliard police Chief Doug Francis said after the meeting.
The other two parcels for which the TIF is being proposed are unoccupied. A Jimmy John's shop is set to occupy the former Bruster's Real Ice Cream, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car will occupy the former Byers Automotive. Both parcels are on the west side of Main Street, just north of Heritage Club Drive.
Law Director Tracy Bradford said while Hilliard has never enacted an ordinance establishing multiple TIF districts at once, Ohio law provides for it.
Council Vice President Kelly McGivern questioned including a sandwich shop as part of a TIF, but Meeks explained the TIF does not directly benefit the businesses, but rather provides the city with a revenue source to make infrastructure improvements to Cemetery Road, including extending sewer lines to the automotive site included in the TIF.
"I'd like to have more time (to consider the legislation), said McGivern, asking if Meeks would accept the ordinance being tabled.
Meeks said the legislation could wait as long as it was acted upon before the county auditor reassesses and increases the taxable value of any of the parcels, which would render moot the creation of the TIF.
However, Sciotto successfully moved that the legislation be forwarded without a recommendation for introduction and a first reading at the Nov. 25 City Council meeting.
"We can amend it later if needed," Councilman Nathan Painter said.
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 designated uses, such as funding the necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.
An urban development TIF typically is used as an incentive for residential rehabilitation.