Preservation Ohio, the state’s oldest statewide historic preservation organization, recently named 11 properties to its annual list of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites. Preservation Ohio has compiled the list since 1993.
Preservation Ohio accepts nominations from any citizen or organization. The Board of Trustees then selects the final list. Over the years, Preservation Ohio explains, “the list has proven successful in saving some of Ohio’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage. Recognition of the Westcott House in Springfield, a Frank Lloyd Wright design, led to a multi-million dollar restoration. The Anthony Wayne Hotel in Hamilton, the Masonic Temple in Columbus and the Unionville Tavern share similar stories.
“Other structures and sites named to the list have not been as fortunate. Two of the properties on the 2017 list were also on the list last year. They remain endangered, and Preservation Ohio continues to monitor their status and work with advocates in the local communities to draw attention and resources to the properties.”
Circumstances that contribute to the endangered status and result in sites being named to the list typically include one or more of the following factors: demolition threat, abandonment, neglectful owner, dilapidation, obsolete use, lack of money for repairs, out-of-the-way location or encroaching sprawl.
The 2017 List of Ohio’s Most Endangered Historic Sites includes the following:
Ashtabula Stone Train Depot (Ashtabula County)
The depot was built in the 1800s. It is one of a few left with the distinctive architecture of the time. The depot is vacant and in danger of demolition.
Brick Quarters Historic District at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Montgomery County)
These 89 Tudor Revival homes built in the 1930s cover several acres. Built as officers’ quarters, they are National Register-eligible properties. All or parts of the district are in danger of demolition.
Clinton Chapel (Franklin County)
The Clinton Chapel is one of the earliest standing structures left in Franklin County. Considered to be a stop on the Underground Railroad and a speakeasy during prohibition, it is in danger of demolition for development.
Columbus Castings – Buckeye Steel (Franklin County)
Once the largest single-site steel foundry in North America, the building covers over 90 acres with 22 acres under roof. The building is for sale.
Cooper Stadium (Franklin County)
Since its construction in 1932, Cooper Stadium has housed many baseball teams, celebrities and guests. It is vacant and continues to deteriorate.
Gem City Ice Cream Building (Montgomery County)
This building dates from 1886 and housed the first Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop. It is listed on the National Register, although it is vacant and continues to deteriorate.
McDowell Farmhouse (Stark County)
The farmhouse is one of the oldest houses in Plain Township near Canton. The house dates to 1821 and is threatened by a highway, which has been expanded to within six feet of the property.
Newton Falls Community Center/Historic USO Club (Trumbull County)
This remarkable structure is one of the few USO clubs left standing in the nation and the only one in Ohio. It is vacant and continues to deteriorate.
Peter Pontius House (Stark County)
Built in 1835 by Peter Pontius, who is credited with taking pictures of all the school buildings in Ohio, it has been threatened by a widening of the street.
Spartan Municipal Stadium (Scioto County)
This stadium was once home to a former NFL football team, which became the Detroit Lions. A local group is working to educate the community about the stadium, which is currently vacant and
deteriorating from neglect.
Wakefield One-Room Schoolhouse (Darke County)
The school building was built in the 1880s and is one of the few remaining one-room schoolhouses in Ohio. It is threatened with demolition by commercial development.
Preservation Ohio is Ohio’s oldest statewide historic preservation organization, an independent, nonprofit organization recognized under Chapter 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Preservation Ohio was established in 1982 to improve the understanding of and appreciation for Ohio’s historic resources and to serve as a focal point for Ohio organizations, municipalities, corporations and individuals who care about these resources and are concerned about preservation for future generations.
As the GOP undertakes comprehensive tax reform, it should restore the Federal Historic Tax Credit, a program that preserves America’s irreplaceable historic buildings, generates jobs and more than pays for itself.
It simply makes no sense to jettison an incentive that, since its inception in 1976, has generated more than $29.9 billion in federal tax revenue. This is a return of $1.20 on each dollar in tax credits awarded, according to data collected by the Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research.
In fact, the federal program works so well that Ohio pairs it with its own historic tax credits, which provide a return of $6.20 in taxes generated for every dollar the state forgoes through its tax credit.
When something improves a community’s quality of life and returns more money than it costs, one would think Congress would let it be. But the federal historic tax credit was not included in the Republican leadership’s framework for House and Senate committees drafting the tax-reform legislation.
We urge Ohio’s Congressional delegation to push hard to restore and improve the Federal Historic Tax Credit — made permanent in the Reagan tax reform of 1986.
We grasp that our byzantine federal tax code must be streamlined. And, in many cases, removing tax exceptions could ultimately lower the tax load for many. But without the incentives provided by this self-funding credit, thousands of projects simply won’t get done. We will send perfectly good buildings to landfills, squander energy and other natural resources on new materials, diminish our cultural heritage and destroy the architectural fabric of our cities.
Investors simply aren’t lining up to renovate money pits. By allowing developers to claim or sell the 20 percent tax credits, these projects become possible. On a $1 million project, for instance, an investor can take $200,000 off total tax liability.
“The tax credit makes projects more feasible, or feasible at all,” said Columbus architect Robert D. Loversidge.
Want to see what he’s talking about? Next time you’re in Downtown Columbus, look up at the city’s most iconic skyscraper. The LeVeque Tower, then slipping toward foreclosure, sold in 2011 for $4 million — about half of what it cost to build in 1927. Even with the modest purchase price, it took tens of millions of dollars along with a combination of tax credits and breaks from the city, state and federal government to make the project work financially.
In Ohio, developers undertook 878 projects using the Federal Historic Tax Credit between 2002 and 2015, according to the National Park Service, which administers the program. This created more than 44,000 jobs, 26,000 of which were permanent. Central Ohio projects include such landmarks as the old State School for the Deaf (now Cristo Rey Columbus High School), the Downtown YMCA and YWCA and the Great Southern Hotel and Opera House.
The credit has breathed new life into communities, provided housing options from low-income to posh, created jobs and saved from the wrecking ball architectural jewels that had fallen on hard times.
Unless Congress adds this credit back into the tax-reform package, it — and some of our most impressive architecture — will be history.
“Editorial: Tax Reform Threatens Historic Buildings.” The Columbus Dispatch, 24 Oct. 2017.
The Ohio Senate is considering legislation to amend the Ohio Constitution, permitting local governments to borrow from a “Bond Bank” for infrastructure construction projects.
House Bill 54, which passed the House (93-1), is sponsored by Representative Bill Blessing (R, Cincinnati) and Representative Theresa Gavarone (R, Bowling Green). If signed into law, the bill would create the State Bond Bank to issue tax-exempt bonds, to be re-paid by local government borrowers. The localities would “pool” their needs rather than enter into smaller, uneconomical debt, creating economies of scale. The Ohio Treasurer would administer the funds. The Ohio Senate Finance Committee has held four hearings on the bill.
State lawmakers on Oct. 18 outlined a proposal designed to limit unnecessary licensure for working in certain jobs, saying the state processes often create high barriers to entry. The bill sponsors, Rep. Ron Hood (R-Ashville) and Rep. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), told the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee that the bill, HB 289, would give the legislature more oversight of occupational licensing boards. The measure would also create a framework for alternatives to occupational licensure while protecting public health and safety, they said.
“In this legislature, we often talk about how we can help foster job creation. Frankly, occupational regulation is the antithesis of job creation,” Rep. Hood said. “It creates a situation where well-intentioned people must go, hat in hand, to the government and ask for a permission slip to simply earn a living. It makes obtaining a job in that field even more difficult and contributes to the unemployment rate.”
The proposal creates a process similar to a fiscal note that would educate the public on licensure changes.
The bill proposes that every occupational licensing board would automatically sunset at the end of five years unless renewed by the legislature. “Understand, this does not mean that these boards will necessarily be disbanded, only that they must be reviewed,” Rep. McColley said. “It is quite possible, and I would hope probable, that some existing licensure requirements can be modified to be less restrictive, but it is highly unlikely that these boards will be eliminated en masse.”
The measure includes a provision similar to one included in the budget bill, HB49, that would give the Common Sense Initiative the ability to evaluate actions by licensing boards for anti-competitive behavior and stop them. That oversight was designed to deal with potential conflicts of interests when people in an industry regulate themselves. After Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) asked if the intent was to change what was included in the budget, Rep. Hood said the bill was drafted before the budget passed and that an amendment would eliminate that provision.
Chairman Rep. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) asked if the sponsors had considered the effect of reducing licensure requirements on people who had already gone through the more rigorous process. “What do you do in the case when people went through that schooling, they expected to have an asset of a certain value for life, and now it’s worth a lot less through no fault of their own?” he asked, using the 1,500-hour requirement for a cosmetologist license as an example. Rep. McColley said it would be wrong to require other people to go through those same burdensome regulations if they aren’t needed, just because other workers went through the process first. “Market forces can take effect,” he said. “Those who had more training and those who were more skilled and more established in their businesses would continue to have an advantage over the competition.”
Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) asked how the legislative review of the licensing boards would differ from what is done in the budget process. By having a review every five years outside of the budget process, Rep. McColley said, the legislature would be able to take more time to look at the regulatory process of each board, rather than just its financial situation. “I’m of the belief that the budget process is probably not an appropriate avenue to review the complete regulatory structure of these boards and agencies,” he said. “With everything that’s going on in a budget and the accelerated time-frame we have for those discussions, I don’t think it’s really a good avenue to do a deep dive into these licensing agencies.”
Joint Committee Begins Review of State’s Tax Expenditures (including Historic Preservation Tax Credit)
Tax Commissioner Joe Testa was the lone sponsor Tuesday at the first meeting of the latest group charged with studying Ohio’s tax expenditures — more popularly known as “tax loopholes.”
Led by Sen. Scott Oelslager (R-Canton) and including Sens. John Eklund (R-Chardon) and Vern Sykes (D-Akron) and Reps. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake), this committee was pointed to by the 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission as key in the state’s potential move toward a flat tax.
Testa told the committee that Ohio’s existing tax expenditures currently total over $9 billion in foregone annual revenue with the approximately 100-plus tax expenditures “seldom subject to formal review.” However, under current law, each tax expenditure is to be reviewed “at least once every eight years.”
Testa defined a “tax expenditure” as “a legislated variation from — more commonly a reduction to — a standardized tax base. … [Specifically], Ohio law defines a tax expenditure to mean a tax provision in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) that exempts, either in whole or in part, certain persons, income, goods, services or property from the effect of taxes established in the ORC, including, but not limited to tax deductions, exemptions, deferrals, exclusions, allowances, credits, reimbursements and preferential tax rates.”
He noted they often remain in law “without a pre-determined termination date.”
Testa referenced the biennial summary of the state’s tax expenditures produced by his department in conjunction with the preparation of the budget. He said there are currently 131 tax expenditures, spread across nine different taxes. (The latest version of this document can be found online at http://tinyurl.com/y78zmzpd.)
The sales and use tax has the most tax expenditures with 57, with a revenue loss to the state of nearly $6 billion in FY18 and nearly $6.2 billion in FY19.
It is followed by the personal income tax which has 37 tax expenditures totaling $2.3 billion for FY18 and nearly $2.4 billion for FY19.
Schaffer asked whether he had a list of those tax expenditures that they should look at: ones that are a drag on the economy. He also wanted to know which Testa believes work.
Testa said he did not but that he believes a “public airing,” where people come in to defend why a specific tax expenditure should be retained is beneficial.
Eklund wondered whether the parameters of the committee’s work should be extended beyond tax expenditures affecting the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to include those affecting local governments and non-GRF funds.
Testa said he believes all of this is fair game: all of the money is “taxpayers’ money” and should be subject to review.
Rogers asked what other data the department could share with the committee with Testa saying they can see what additional information they can provide as the committee zeroes in on a tax. Oelslager said they will be working with the department as they proceed.
Sykes asked where they should focus. Testa, saying he didn’t want to presume to direct the committee, added that the sales tax has the most or they may want to start with the oldest tax expenditures.
Asked after the hearing about his timeline for the committee’s work, Oelslager responded that they “have eight years.” He said he will be consulting with members before proceeding.
Board of Building Appeals: Neil J. Giering of Garfield Hts. (Cuyahoga Co.) was reappointed for a term beginning Oct. 13 and ending Oct. 13, 2021.
Board of Building Standards: Donald B. Leach, Jr. of Columbus (Franklin Co.), Terence M. McCafferty of Seven Hills (Cuyahoga Co.), Donald R. McIlroy of Circleville (Pickaway Co.), Christopher L. Miller of Dublin (Franklin Co.), John N. Pavlis of North Canton (Stark Co.), Carl Schultz of Delaware (Delaware Co.), and A. Bailey Stanbery of Toledo (Lucas Co.)were reappointed for terms beginning Oct. 14 and ending Oct. 13, 2021.
The time to act is right now! As we have been expecting, the House Ways and Means Committee has removed historic tax credits, during the tax reform process.
We are in a national campaign to Save Historic Tax Credits. Everyone who has used these credits or benefited from these credits needs to act now.
We realize the importance of national tax reform. But we also think the tax credits that work for American communities, which have proven to provide a positive return should be retained.
In Ohio the impact of historic tax credits has been truly phenomenal.
In Ohio 1976-2016 there have been 1,898 completed projects = Total Investment $4,091,824,967
In Ohio 2012-2016 Total Rehabilitation Costs $1,392 billion
In Ohio 2012-2016 historic tax credit projects created 24,616 Jobs
The risk is assumed 100% by the private sector, the credit is not taken until 100% certified completion.
We have seen spectacular results in Ohio’s small towns: Chillicothe to Painesville, mid-sized towns Hamilton to Canton, and the biggest cities: Cincinnati to Cleveland economies have been transformed by historic tax credits.
- Your congressman
- Senator Rob Portman
- Congressmen Tiberi and Renacci, members of House Ways and Means Committee
Ask them to put Historic Tax Credits back in, tell your story, tell what you’ve seen and experienced, let them know this is a vital tool for Ohio. It allows Ohio communities to compete with coast for talent, and investments.
Share this with everyone on your team and with other community members.
To be successful we need full participation.
A good resource for more complex questions is the NTCIC Historic Tax Credit Coalition
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently recognized Ohio for having more LEED-certified K-12 schools than any other state in the country.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the world’s most widely used green building rating system.
USGBC, the creators of LEED, honored the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) for assisting more than 300 K-12 buildings across the state to achieve LEED certification. That number makes Ohio the nationwide leader in K-12 sustainable construction, well ahead of second-place California with 121 LEED certified schools.
The recognition was presented to OFCC Executive Director David Williamson at USGBC’s Design
Columbus Education Day, held at Ohio State University. Williamson noted that this has been a 10-year process for the commission, which first mandated the use of environmentally friendly design techniques in state-funded K-12 projects back in 2007.
“Our commission has always stressed innovation and new ideas into our program,” Williamson added. “We believe that our efforts in this area have yielded both environmental benefits and operational cost savings for public owners in Ohio. We look forward to our continued work with USGBC in this vital area.”
Ohio’s LEED-certified schools are designed to be more energy efficient, save money and reduce resource consumption. Buildings in OFCC-funded LEED projects are designed, on average, to be 33 percent more energy efficient, reduce potable water consumption by 35 percent, and provide healthier learning environments for children. The 300 school projects have implemented recycling practices that have diverted an average of 77 percent construction waste for each project, meaning that more than 500,000 tons of waste have been kept out of local landfills.
The program also has an economic impact, the commission pointed out: through LEED, the OFCC has spent approximately $1.4 billion to purchase products and materials within 500 miles of each project, thus supporting the local economies.
“Where we learn matters. At the U.S. Green Building Council we believe that children all over the world deserve the opportunity to learn in a green school that sustains the world they live in, enhances their health and well-being and prepares them to be global sustainability citizens,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, USGBC CEO & president. “We applaud Mr. Williamson and the OFCC for their commitment to Ohio’s students. By prioritizing green schools, the OFCC is leading the way and helping USGBC continue toward our vision of a sustainable built environment within a generation.”
In addition to Ohio’s comprehensive public K-12 school construction and renovation program, the OFCC guides capital construction projects for state agencies and state-supported universities and community colleges as well.
The 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission has issued its final report after a two-year review of Ohio’s tax system, but those hoping for a set of firm policy recommendations will likely be disappointed. That’s because the commission’s report comes down to one recommendation: Further study is required.
The bulk of the report’s 323 pages consist of copies of public testimony submitted to the commission. The only recommendation contained in the document is that the Tax Expenditure Review Committee conduct a more in-depth study moving forward. (Final Report)
“Although the (commission) heard testimony on the tax credits and expenditures, a more thorough review is needed and is required as part of the permanent Tax Expenditure Review Committee,” the report recommends.
Historic Preservation Tax Credit
By Oct. 31, 2016, the group had published its findings on the historic preservation tax credit, calling for stronger reporting and tracking requirements, increased disclosure of how much of the credit will support the proposed project, and regular budget language depicting the total allowable amount of credits that may be authorized during the biennium.
Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina), who co-chaired the panel along with Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster), called the commission’s work a “great process” that resulted in plenty of information useful during budget talks earlier this year.
“Any time you have a focused look at this sort of information it’s helpful.” he said in an interview.
Despite the final report’s lack of conclusive recommendations, taking the view that the commission accomplished little would be inaccurate, he said. In addition to the final report, the commission released more detailed reports on the oil and gas severance tax and the historic preservation tax credit over the last two years.
“Certainly there’s more to do, but I would argue look where the state of Ohio was eight years ago or even two years ago in the budget you’ll find substantial changes in (tax) policy,” Sen. Peterson said. “It was a great process, a great opportunity to sit down and work with tax policy.”
Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), one of two minority members on the committee, was less impressed with the process.
“I don’t think it was as productive as I would have liked it to have been,” Rep. Cera said, who added he expected the process would be more closely tied to tax proposals in recent state budgets.
“I thought the thinking was, ‘Let’s create this commission to look at where the tax policies need to be changed and be prepared for the next budget.’ Of course…with the revenue issues and everything, there really weren’t a whole lot of tax law changes.”
Sen. Charleta B. Tavares (D-Columbus), the group’s other minority member, acknowledged the brevity of the final report but said she agrees that tax policy expenditures need to be thoroughly reviewed.
“These are foregone taxes that reduce our budget revenues, and consequently, the amount of revenue that can be used to provide for the needs of our constituents,” Sen. Tavares said in a statement. “Since my time in the Senate, I have advocated for and sponsored legislation and amendments to create a Tax Expenditure Review Committee…. This committee is necessary to ensure that Ohio has a fair and effective tax system.”
The expenditure review committee was formed by legislation last session (HB9, 131st General Assembly) and was supposed to begin meeting in June 2017.
But legislative leaders failed to appoint members by the statutory deadline, only doing so in July following prodding from Policy Matters Ohio and subsequent media attention. The group, which has a July 1, 2018, deadline for a report, has yet to meet.
With the new report issued, the 2020 study commission now ceases to exist. The state budget (HB64, 131st General Assembly) that created the 2020 group called for the publication of a final report by Oct. 1, 2017. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, October 22, 2015)
The commission’s charge was fourfold: Recommend how to transition personal income tax to a 3.5% or 3.75% flat tax by 2018; explore how to make the historic rehabilitation tax credit more effective; study how to reform the severance tax to maximize competitiveness; and review all tax credits.
Policy Matters Research Director Zach Schiller said he’s glad the group didn’t move forward with recommendations for a flat tax. But he said the recommendation to shift the burden of discussion highlights the need to get the review committee working.
“I think this has made the work of this new tax expenditure review committee all the more important and it is somewhat and it’s unfortunate it hasn’t gotten started already,” Mr. Schiller said.
Regarding the lack of specific recommendations from the 2020 group, Mr. Schiller opined, “It’s better to kick the can down the road than make recommendations that aren’t fully vetted, but that said they spent quite a bit of time having a number of hearings and I hope it isn’t time ill-spent.”
The 2020 panel first met in October 2015, the same day a working group issued a report opining that any change in the Oil and Gas Severance Tax should be based on market conditions.
Polls will be open in just 10 counties next week for special elections. Of the 11 issues that are set to appear before voters Tuesday, five are school levies or bonds.
Although turnout is typically low for special elections, there is hope that going to the ballot off-cycle could be beneficial for schools, said Van Keating, senior staff attorney for the Ohio School Boards Association.
“They can kind of target and get a lot of interest in what their issue is and perhaps people pay more attention to it because there are not a lot of other issues,” he said in an interview.
“It’s about the time where kids go back to school so people are paying attention to schools, there is an interest in schools and they’re getting involved in schools after summer, so I’d say it’s probably a good time of year,” he added.
Xenia Community City, Crestwood Local and Clark-Shawnee Local school districts are asking voters to pledge additional dollars to be used for building, renovating and equipping facilities as well as making permanent improvements.
Respectively, the districts are seeking $52 million, $23 million and $37 million bonds for their projects
Mr. Keating said voters should consider bond issues as investments in their school districts because they’ll likely be used to fund more efficient buildings and technology upgrades.
“It’s important because a lot of schools do need funding for building renovations,” he said. “Some of them are experiencing student growth and so they have a need for more space or a lot of the older schools are running into (the issue of) it’s kind of hard to keep up with modern technology and wiring.”
Meanwhile, Madison-Plains Local Schools is looking to avoid an operating deficit through a proposed additional 5.9-mill, five-year levy set to raise $2 million annually.
Waterloo Local Schools is also asking for an increase to cover current expenses. It has proposed an additional 8.25-mill continuing levy.
Other issues on the ballot include a 0.25 sales tax continuation in Ashland County to operate its jail and an additional 1.8 mills for permanent improvements to the Louisville Public Library.
The latter was set to appear on the May ballot, but it was pulled when residents called for the library’s board to consider other options that would eliminate the need for additional funding for a new facility, according to reports.
Renewal levies include those in North Canton, where residents will be asked to vote up or down for emergency medical services, and Minerva Park, which is looking to cover current expenses with dollars raised.
Camden Village ballots will include two renewal levy requests, one for police protection and another for current operating expenses.
Per Ohio law, the entire cost of special elections is paid for by those subdivisions where elections are held.