CINCINNATI (WKRC)- A group of upset citizens protested in front of Cincinnati's City Hall ahead of a vote on tax increment finance districts, or TIFs, Wednesday afternoon.
Inside council chambers, dozens of people voiced their opinions for and against the proposed 15 TIF districts for nearly two hours.
Here is a quick rundown of how a TIF works: Once a district is created, any increase in property value and subsequent increase in property tax revenue in the district would be put into a special fund. The money in that fund can only be used for public improvement projects within the district it came from.
The new districts will be created in Camp Washington, College Hill, Eastern River, Mt. Airy, Mt. Auburn, North Fairmount, Northside, Pleasant Ridge, Riverside, Roselawn, South Cumminsville, South Fairmount, Spring Grove Village, West End and Westwood Boudinot.
A lot of people, including Laura Hamilton, say the city administration has not been transparent about the money from the current districts that were created more than a decade ago.
"It's not been transparent. It's not been accountable, and it's not been available to the communities who have them. So, we have not had a say. We've not been consulted. We've been told occasionally and told many different stories about which projects were spent on and never asked," Hamilton said.
The neighborhoods currently with TIF districts are: Avondale, Bond Hill, Carthage, Clifton Heights, Corryville, Downtown, East Price Hill, East Walnut Hills, Evanston, Lower Price Hill, Madisonville, Oakley, Over-the-Rhine, Sedamsville, Walnut Hills, West Price Hill and Westwood.
Hamilton says she hasn't been able to get a straight answer from the city on current TIF dollars and projects.
"There are obvious discrepancies done by the city in the last few weeks, presentations that have been given by the director of economic development that conflict with one another in terms of projects and amounts of money spent and even balances available," Hamilton said.
Sr. Barbara Busch testified in favor of the districts. She thinks the pros outweigh the cons.
"We hope to have an opportunity to make decisions about where that money might go, which is a decision we don't have right now," Busch said.
Busch says a TIF would give the poor neighborhoods a chance at getting some much-needed public improvements the neighborhood likely wouldn't get any other way.
"We will have the ability to speak on where we want [the money generated from the TIF district] to go and it will go [in front of] city council. So, we will have a double way of speaking. So, not only speaking to the bureaucrats but also speaking to council about what we want in our neighborhoods," Busch said.