Joe Motil

Former Columbus City Council candidate Joe Motil continues his years of objecting to the City of Columbus providing developers with tax abatements if they set aside a small percentage of housing units for those with annual incomes from anywhere between $35,220 - $57,800. He spoke at the Columbus Development Department’s hour-long community question and comment meeting last night at Barack Recreation Center on their proposed Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) Residential Tax Abatement Policy Update Recommendations.                    

Motil testified that, “CRA’s in most cases are created specifically to a particular development, such as the Kenny and Henderson CRA which was created for developer Preferred Living. Wagenbrenner’s Grandview Crossing and Quarry CRA’s were established for the sole purpose of benefitting Wagenbrenner’s Thrive Companies, who is one of the largest campaign contributors to the mayor and city council members. The 5th by Northwest CRA boundaries two of Columbus’s wealthiest suburbs of Grandview and Upper Arlington. These are not distressed areas of Columbus with high poverty rates, foreclosures, and housing vacancy which are criteria that is required to create a CRA district.”

Motil says, "The legacy CRA districts which include downtown, the Brewery District and Jeffrey have all been thriving risk-free development areas for 10 years or more. They and the market ready CRA’s I mentioned previously all need to have their CRA designation repealed and set aside units should be mandated by the city as legislation without tax abatements. Especially in these CRA’s, developers of new housing in this city are making a killing at the expense of Columbus Public Schools and our children’s educational needs. According to the Franklin County Auditor, from 2014 to 2020, $547.7 million in property tax revenue has been abated from CRA’s alone resulting in a loss of $171.5 million to Columbus Public Schools. Let that figure sink in. And I have not included the loss of revenue to those with development disabilities, children’s services, our library system, ADAMH and assistance for seniors.”  

Motil further claims that “Although I recognize the City’s efforts in this matter are genuine, this is a band-aid solution that suggests that the defunding of Columbus Public Schools and social service agencies is a remedy that should be continued to be used to appease greedy developers who claim they need a taxpayer handout to provide truly affordable housing in risk-free areas of Columbus.”     

Motil concluded that, ”The city needs real long-term solutions such enacting legislation for rent control, Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, place a bond package on the ballot for no less than $250 million, challenge the Columbus Partnership to establish their own affordable housing trust fund and Children’s Hospital to build a 100-unit affordable housing complex as part of their $3.3 billion expansion. Increase the percentage of the hotel-motel tax revenue that goes toward the Affordable Housing Trust Fund from 8.43% to 20%. The City and county should collaborate in spending $60 million each of its ARP funds and the Columbus Partnership should match it with $60 million for an immediate shot in the arm of $180 million towards affordable housing that can create at least 6,200 units. Tax abatement CRA incentives are doing more damage to the economic and social welfare of Columbus’s underserved than good and they are merely fattening the profit margins of greedy developers who control city development policy.”