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CCS Board Ponders $586,000 Annual Payment From Arena Owners

The Columbus City Schools board will vote next week on whether to accept a provisional settlement with the public owners of Nationwide Arena for an annual payment in lieu of property taxes.  Alison Holm has more. 

Tuesday morning the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority voted unanimously to offer Columbus City Schools an annual payment of $586-thousand dollars, rather than the nearly $3 million due to the district based on the official value of Nationwide Arena.  Tuesday evening the districts chief legal counsel, Larry Braverman, advised the board it may be the best deal they can get.  

The Facilities Authority is asking to the General Assembly to grant the Arena tax exempt status,a status 15 other publicly owned sports facilities in Ohio already have.  The district's Braverman told the board that if that status is granted, the district will get nothing.  If lawmakers decline to grant the exemption, the Facilities Authority has said it will contest the Auditor's assessed value of the Arena.  

"And I think that we've learned from experience that litigating valuation issues is extremely problematic.  Without being able to predict what value might ultimately be determined, it is highly likely that it will not be close to $144 million.  Back in 2007, I believe it was, the Court of Common Pleas in Franklin County held that the value of the building then was closer to 42 million dollars.  and it is highly unlikely that the value has gone up since then".  

Braverman also told the board that accepting the Facilities authority offer would provide the district with some security.  

"It would provide a fixed amount of dollars to the district each year for as long as the convention Facilities authority owned and operated the Arena.  Buildings like this tend to go down in value over time.  Property tax receipts from a building that's going down in value would lower over time.  That won't happen so long as this agreement is in place".  

In addition to the annual payments, the Facilities Authority would provide the district with free use of the Arena and support services four times a year for commencement ceremonies.  

The school board took no action on the offer Tuesday evening, but president Gary Baker called for a special meeting Monday night to vote on it.


A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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