The Pickerington Board of Education last week approved an agreement to absolve OhioHealth of paying property taxes on its planned medical campus for up to 30 years.

The Pickerington Board of Education last week approved an agreement to absolve OhioHealth of paying property taxes on its planned medical campus for up to 30 years.

The school board Feb. 10 unanimously voted to approve a tax-increment financing agreement that will allow OhioHealth to pay an estimated $4.4 million to cover costs to widen Refugee Road in lieu of paying property taxes to the Pickerington Local School District.

Instead, OhioHealth will pay off bonds the city of Pickerington will issue for the road project.

The TIF was an integral part of a deal under which OhioHealth plans to build an approximately $42 million, 150,000-square-foot medical campus -- and possibly a regional hospital in the future -- near the intersection of state Route 256 and Refugee Road.

The medical campus is targeted as the first phase of that project, and Pickerington city officials have said it would create about 200 jobs locally.

The board's action last week also put to rest previous concerns its members raised about the city's ability to create additional TIF district's on approximately 62 acres just west of the medical campus site on the north side of state Route 256.

"Two weeks ago, we had come to an agreement with the city of Pickerington about (no) further TIFs on the north side of the road," Board President Jim Brink said.

OhioHealth has up to 30 years to pay off the debt the city incurs to widen Refugee Road by four or five lanes from 256 to the main OhioHealth Refugee Road entrance.

That project also would involve widening Refugee to three lanes from the medical campus' Refugee entrance to the city's corporation limits that abut the city of Columbus.

However, a separate provision of the TIF requires that one-fifth of each OhioHealth's employee's 1-percent city income tax payments will be used to pay off the road project's debt once the company's payroll reaches $10 million cumulatively.

Board members believe diverting a portion of those employees' income taxes will help pay off the debt on the road project sooner than 30 years.

Once the road project is paid off, the school district will begin to collect property taxes from the OhioHealth site.

Prior to the board's Feb. 10 vote, there had been questions as to whether the portion of OhioHealth employees' income taxes would be directed to the roadway debt until payroll reached $10 million cumulatively or annually.

"That (portion of the income tax) will go back in to repay the bonds in a faster period of time," Brink said Feb. 10.

In other action from Feb. 10, the board unanimously approved a 10-year agreement with OhioHealth whereby the organization will provide free sports medicine services to Pickerington Local School District junior high and high school athletes.

The agreement has two, 10-year options, meaning it can be renewed for up to 30 years.

Under that agreement, OhioHealth also will construct 2,000 square feet of space at its planned medical campus to provide educational programming for district students.

Additionally, OhioHealth has agreed to pay a total of $16,000 each year to sponsor the Pickerington High School North Girls Basketball Tournament and the PHS North-Pickerington High School Central football game.

"In the event that either or both of those events are discontinued or are not held in a given year, OhioHealth and the school will mutually agree on one or more replacement events to be sponsored at the same total payment amount," the agreement states.

In approving the "cooperative agreement" with OhioHealth the two sides resolved concerns raised by board members Lisa Reade and Lori Sanders regarding the abilities of other healthcare providers besides OhioHealth to advertise at Pickerington athletic events or in athletic programs.

The exclusive advertising clause contained in a preliminary draft of the proposed agreement was removed.

"There were some adjustments to the advertising clause consistent with what we've seemed to do in the past," Brink said.