Ohio House Bill 69 that would require cities to reimburse township and emergency medical services levy revenue taken from tax-increment-finance districts has spent the summer in the Ohio Senate Ways and Means committee.

Meanwhile, Washington Township is looking to continue discussion with city of Dublin officials about revenue Dublin TIFs diverted from its township fire and EMS programming -- more than $2.4 million in 2016.

What is a 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 Development Services Agency.

A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting resulting incremental revenue to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.

Local effect

According to Washington Township's 2016 annual report, Dublin's TIF districts are diverting a little more than $2.4 million from the township, which is about 12 percent of the fire and EMS levy annual revenue.

TIFs began becoming a concern for the township when the city created the Bridge Street TIF that includes a considerable amount of residential space and created TIFs on the city's senior communities and nursing homes, said Denise Franz King, a Washington Township trustee.

"All of those areas require so much service, and yet they're not contributing anything," she said.

Residential TIFs hurt the township more than commercial TIFs do, King said, because residential areas typically generate more requests for EMS and fire service response than commercial areas.

According to information supplied by Dublin, the city as of Dec. 31 had 35 active TIF districts. Two of those were residential, and 33 were commercial.

Since about 1999, Dublin's TIF districts have funded about $176 million in infrastructure, said City Manager Dana McDaniel.

In turn, the private sector has made about $660 million in private investment.

And although the city has 14 assisted- and skilled-living facilities served by the township fire department, only 4 of them are within a TIF district, McDaniel said.

Policies facilities have implemented regarding when to provide patient ambulance transportation to a hospital is the main reason behind ambulance run increases from an average of about 1 run per bed per year to about 1.7 runs per bed, per year, McDaniel said.

"We have every interest in Washington Township fire and EMS being the best it can possibly be," McDaniel said.

Still, without TIF districts, the city wouldn't have the economic vitality it enjoys that helps the city provide quality of life services and sustain its infrastructure.

That infrastructure investment, he said, keeps property values steady, which in turn translates to property tax revenues for the township fire and EMS programming.

Looking to the future

Washington Township in November 2015 passed an 8.25-mill operating levy to support fire department operations.

The township's new administrator Eric Richter will need to look into the impact Dublin TIFs could have on the next fire levy, projected for 2020, King said.

Richter, who begins working for the township Sept. 27, fills the vacancy created when former township administrator Sarah Ott resigned to accept another job.

King said the township has taken steps to reduce its costs to make up for money lost from TIFs.

A couple years ago, the township outsourced its two parks, Ted Kaltenbach and Homestead, to the city of Dublin and Columbus Metro Parks, respectively, she said.

The township is also collecting fees from insurance companies for ambulance transfers to hospitals, she said.

According to the township annual report, EMS billing for patient transfers to hospitals were implemented Jan. 1 and the practice is estimated to generate $750,000 annually.

A year and a half ago, former township administrator Sarah Ott testified before Dublin City Council members about the revenue diverted from fire and EMS programming by Dublin TIFs, King said.

King said, she, also, spoke with Dublin Mayor Greg Peterson and McDaniel.

What followed was a series of meetings with township and city officials, in which the TIF issue was the primary subject, King said.

"They have never challenged our statements," King said.

King said she expects dialogue to continue when Richter starts with the township later this month.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah