COLUMBUS, Ohio – June 16, 2022 – During a public hearing at City Hall last evening, Columbus Education Association (CEA) member Greg Mild urged City Councilmember Shayla Favor to reconsider policy revisions to the Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) residential tax abatement policy, which allows wealthy developers to continue draining much needed funding from our schools.
“With the majority of revenue for school districts still coming from property taxes, the abatements cost the Columbus Schools over 51 million dollars in 2021 alone. And the increased practice of awarding abatements is out of control – outpacing the growth of real property within the school district over the past eight years,” Mild said.
Mild’s full testimony is attached to this message.
CEA President John Coneglio added, “For years, the Columbus City Schools administration has pursued policies of disinvestment, school closings, and the transfer of our public resources to private interests to satisfy the desires of powerful developers, corporate interests, and politicians. Columbus students deserve safe, properly maintained, fully resourced schools, and it’s time these developers pay their fair share.”
The CEA-CCS Master Agreement expires at midnight on August 21. With negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement underway, members of the Columbus Education Association are fighting for the schools Columbus students deserve.
The Columbus Education Association is the union representing nearly 4,500 teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors, psychologists, and other education professionals in Columbus City Schools. The Columbus Education Association is a proud affiliate of the Ohio Education Association and the National Education Association.
Remarks Regarding Tax Abatements for Developers
Greg Mild – Member, Columbus Education Association
Columbus City Council Hearing
June 15, 2022
Good evening. My name is Greg Mild and I am speaking to you on behalf of the Columbus Education Association. As you may be aware, the Columbus Education Association is vehemently opposed to the continued practice of City Council awarding tax abatements to wealthy developers which results in a drastic loss of tax dollars received by the Columbus City School District. With the majority of revenue for school districts still coming from property taxes, the abatements cost the Columbus Schools over 51 million dollars in 2021 alone. And the increased practice of awarding abatements is out of control – outpacing the growth of real property within the school district over the past eight years.
In the interest of time, I’ll be direct and lay out our three key asks.
First and foremost, stop awarding tax abatements to wealthy developers and companies that clearly do not need them so that the tax burden ceases to be put on the back of Columbus residents. We believe that companies should pay their fair share just like your ordinary citizen.
Second, and since we do not believe you will listen to our first request, we ask that you at the bare minimum require developers receiving abatements to hold to the requirement of providing affordable housing and not let them throw more money at the issue and avoid this direct investment in the Columbus community. The ability to pay a fee to avoid such direct community involvement seems to contradict their need for an abatement in the first place.
Finally, we would recommend that every member of City Council take a deep look into those contributing to their campaigns and take a few simple actions. First, return all donations from individuals and entities connected to those companies who are receiving or have received a tax abatement. Second, refuse to accept any donations in the future from these entities. And third, recuse yourself from any discussion of tax abatements from these entities in the future to avoid any question of a quid pro quo agreement. We certainly don’t need another political scandal in the city.
Our bottom line is this – focus on what actions YOU can take to invest in the children and families of our city. What can YOU do to help Ohio’s largest public school district THRIVE? If you want to attract investment in Columbus, then start talking about your investment as city leaders in creating a successful and growing urban school district.
The Columbus Education Association is fighting for the schools that Columbus Students Deserve and we need to know that you are, too.