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City of Grandview Heights Blog


Dec 04

The Tuesday Top 5: December 4, 2018

Posted on December 4, 2018 at 1:01 PM by Laura Oldham

Welcome to the Tuesday Top 5! Your source for the latest info on what is going on in Grandview Heights.

1. 2019 Budgets Pass

City Council passed both the City Operating and Capital Budgets on unanimous 7-0 votes during its December 3rd meeting. I wanted to express my appreciation to the City Staff for their tireless work forming the proposed budgets, and to Council for fine-tuning the details during committee meetings. I would especially like to recognize the hard work of the Council Finance Committee, chaired by Councilman Steven Gladman and the Finance Department. The budgets as passed reflect the same priorities I set for continued operations and new initiatives when presenting the budget for Council’s consideration in November.

Read more: The Tuesday Top 5: November 27, 2018

2. Leaf Pickup Continues

Wet and freezing weather in November caused delays to curbside leaf collection, but the Grandview Heights Service Department will continue their efforts to catch up. Service Director, Darryl Hughes, reported his crews have collected over 300 tons of leaves from the streets of Grandview Heights in November while booking 131 hours of overtime amid the inclement weather. Rest assured those efforts will continue as the weather cooperates.

Leaf pick up in Grandview

To get a sense of the weather issues, consider that John Glenn International Airport reported 5.7 inches of rain in November, or 2.5 inches more than the typical 3.2 inches of rain expected.

Note: the city is stopping the pick up of yard waste this week other than leaves. We extended this a week due to the weather.



3. 
The Bigger Purpose of Not Raking Leaves and Putting Yard Waste in the Streets

Director of Administration, Patrick Bowman, reports that leaf collection is a key component to keeping yard waste out of the City’s storm sewer system, which can cause blockages in and out of the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers. These measures and others get reviewed and updated each year as part of the City’s storm water management plan filed with the Ohio EPA each year. Residents can look up information on that plan here.

NOTE: The leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste picked up gets composted. 


4. ScriptDrop Eyes Relocation, Expansion

A startup software firm, ScriptDrop Inc., has identified 855 Grandview Avenue as a tentative site to grow its technology-driven prescription drug delivery business. My administration brought legislation for a first reading before City Council to entice the company to move into the Loth office furniture-anchored building. Loth, Inc. is looking to expand and integrate its logistics software into chain pharmacies seeking to improve customer service.

A recent Columbus Business First article said the company will bring 15 employees plus expectations it will add nine more as it moves to merge with software contractor Matched Pattern LLC. Council’s Economic Development Committee will hold public hearings on the proposed incentive before a vote of the full council in early 2019.

5. Santa Sets Grandview Library Visit

Saint Nicholas will ride a fire truck to the front door of the Grandview Heights Public Library, 1685 W. First Avenue, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 8th to visit children of all ages. Santa will meet and greet children in the library’s meeting room until noon. Those with Christmas wish lists are encouraged to drop them off at that time. Parents are welcome to take pictures, so don’t forget your cameras! You can cut your wait time Saturday by going into the library this week and picking a time slot. The City’s Parks and Recreation Department program, in cooperation with the library, will also host a room for making holiday crafts. Rosie the Comfort Dog from Atonement Lutheran Church also will visit with the children.

Read more about the event here


Tuesday Top 5 is a weekly update from Mayor Ray DeGraw and the City of Grandview Heights. For more information, visit GrandviewHeights.org. 

Sign up here to get text or email alerts with the latest news from the City of Grandview Heights: https://www.grandviewheights.org/list.aspx?ListID=261

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Nov 27

The Tuesday Top 5: November 27, 2018

Posted on November 27, 2018 at 8:20 PM by Laura Oldham

Welcome to the Tuesday Top 5! Your source for the latest info on what is going on in Grandview Heights.


1. Parks and Recreation worker and friend remembered

Sean McCreary, a five-year member of the Grandview Heights Parks and Recreation Department staff and a friend to all, passed away November 19th. Sean was married and had two young daughters whom he was very active with. Although he graduated from Thomas Worthington, his family lived in Grandview Heights for part of his childhood and he went to St. Christopher’s School. He loved our community.

Sean McCreary

Sean also supported the community after hours, whether coaching his daughters’ GBSA softball teams, helping the Bobcat Boosters set up wiring for the Ox Roast, or being involved in several other organizations. With his laid back, easy going personality, Sean quickly built friendships among the City staff and with Grandview Heights and Marble Cliff residents. He was a good cook, at least in a couple of areas. Each spring he and his father would grill ribs and prepare other dishes for a staff gathering. He also cooked a “legendary” Crème Brule French Toast for the Center’s Annual Christmas Breakfast.

Sean had a versatility of skills. If you could describe it, he could build it and if you
needed help, he was there. His background as an electrician and mechanic led to him
taking on several other tasks outside his work in Parks and Recreation, including
assisting the City Service Department on streetlight repairs, line tracing, and circuit
breaker installation.


Most of all, Sean was a good man. To meet him, was to like him. The City staff and the
broader community will greatly miss Sean as a co-worker and a friend. We are all better people for knowing him.


2. Operating budget reflects priorities

In addition to funding continued operations, the proposed 2019 Operating Budget, Ordinance 2018-30 The budget I submitted to Council earlier this month as Ordinance 2018-30 includes several new initiatives to enhance services:

  • Adding a police officer to the department and moving a sergeant to the detective bureau to handle a growing investigation caseload;
  • Hiring one more maintenance worker to the Service Department and dedicating two workers to film and clean sewer and sanitary lines throughout the city as we move toward a goal inspecting every sanitary and storm sewer line once a year while reducing contract labor costs;
  • Greatly expand the programs offered by the Parks and Recreation Department to increase offerings to all age groups, a move that will require creating a new recreation program position;
  • The operating budget also proposes to increase our tree pruning and replacement activity and step up replacement of sidewalks damaged by tree roots; and
  • Funding an update to the street pavement rating system developed by ODOT to help prioritize street repairs and replacements. This goes hand-in-hand with a request to increase the capital improvements budget for street repairs by $250,000 in 2019.

3. Capital budget list under review


The Capital Improvements Budget (Ordinance 2018-31) also is also under review by council. The administration’s proposed new initiatives include: 

  • Community projects include expansion of the Street Improvement program from $500,000 this year to $?750,000 in 2019; replacing the east side sidewalk with a shared pedestrian and bike path (multi-purpose path) on Grandview Avenue between the City Hall and Goodale Boulevard, a new multi-purpose path along the east side of Elmwood north of Goodale; and intersection safety enhancements for the intersection of Grandview and West First avenues;
  • The purchase of a new garbage packer truck, two new trash buggies, a skid steer with attachments, and new leaf box for a dump truck;
  • Protective clothing, scheduled radio replacements and an ambulance cot for the fire department as well as scheduled radio replacement, night optics, and cell analyzer equipment for the police department; and
  • Upgrades for the permitting system for the Administration Department and replacement security cameras for city hall.

4. Sidewalk, curb repair discussed

City Council’s Planning and Administrative Committee held a hearing November 19th on an ordinance seeking to change the scope of property owners’ responsibility for the repair or installation of public sidewalks, curbs and street gutter. Proposed Ordinance 2018-32 would shift part or all of the cost of such projects to the City. The Council committee asked me and Service Director Darryl Hughes about the process and standards used to direct residents and business to repair their sidewalks. Historically, the city’s Building Department has inspected a quadrant of the city each year, marked sidewalks and curbs in need of repair, and notified residents of the need to repair the sidewalks.

For a number of years, the City has repaired sidewalks damaged or lifted by city-
installed trees in the public right-of-way between the sidewalk and street curb. The
current proposal will get more scrutiny as the city determines the current condition of the sidewalks, curbs and street gutters and how much it will cost to repair those not meeting the City’s standards.

5. City launches Christmas festivities

The holiday season gets started here in Grandview Heights this week, beginning with the acceptance of Letters to Santa at the Grandview Heights Center, 1515 Goodale Boulevard, or the Grandview Heights Public Library, 1685 W. First Ave., today through December 19th. Children may also email their letters to santa@grandviewheights.org. All correspondence will get answered through the U.S. Postal Service.

New this year will be outside activities. An artificial ice rink will be open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the Grandview High School Band will start playing at 5:30 to kick off the outside activities. So,bring your ice skates and dress warm! The Pathways Credit Union will again sponsor a Holiday Coloring Contest, with entries due at the credit union (1445 Goodale Boulevard) or the Grandview Center by noon on Monday, December 3rd. Winners of the $50 first place prize, $25 second prize and third place $10 prize will be announced at the holiday tree lighting ceremony that begins at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4th at the Grandview Center. That ceremony will feature the Grandview Heights High School Singers ensemble.

Tree being lit up Tree in light

Next week I’ll detail the 'Bubbles the Elf' contest that runs from December 1st through December 20th. You’ll have to find our holiday Elf at area businesses and post a picture on the city’s social media sites: Instagram #BubblesTheElfGrandview or
Facebook @grandviewheightsoh.

Tuesday Top 5 is a weekly update from Mayor Ray DeGraw and the City of Grandview Heights. For more information, visit GrandviewHeights.org. 

Sign up here to get text or email alerts with the latest news from the City of Grandview Heights: https://www.grandviewheights.org/list.aspx?ListID=261

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Nov 20

The Tuesday Top 5: November 20, 2018

Posted on November 20, 2018 at 4:13 PM by Laura Oldham

Welcome to the Tuesday Top 5! Your source for the latest info on what is going on in Grandview Heights.


In a variation of the Top Five blog this week, I thought I would address some of the rumors circulating around our community after the recent passage of the Grandview school levy and ongoing negotiations to expand the Grandview Yard development agreement to include land south of Goodale Boulevard.

1. Do single family homes and multifamily projects in Grandview Yard pay property taxes?

Some folks have written on various public forums that homeowners in the mixed-used Grandview Yard development don’t pay real estate taxes. The truth is, owners of single-family properties pay 100% of the property taxes on the valuation of their home, the same as everyone else throughout the community. This includes the existing detached housing on Pullman Way and the Homes at Grandview Yard that M/I Homes is preparing to build at First Avenue and Bobcat Avenue. 

Pullman

With that said, multi-family properties (condos and apartments) are abated at 50% for the first 15 years. After that period, those properties will generate the full property tax amount. Some communities abate 100% of multi-family property improvements (that is, construction costs) for 10 to 15 years to encourage development.  For example, Columbus extended abatements to developers in downtown Columbus, the Short North, and many of the residential units built in the Columbus portion of the Tri-Village area.  Property tax money is paid into a PILOT fund from which money is distributed to the school and the bond holder. (See PILOTS below) 

Grandview Heights does not provide a 100% abatement in its agreement with Grandview Yard developer, Nationwide Realty Investors (NRI), because funds from the property tax, in addition to a portion of the city income tax, are necessary to pay off the capital improvements bonds that have been sold to build the streets, the underground utility lines, and many other public infrastructure serving the 90 acre re-development area. 

A bit of a history lesson may help those of you who are newer to the community or never drove through the Grandview Yard area prior to its transformation. Through the early 2000s, that area had served as an industrial area, with fabrication and distribution facilities dating back to World War II. By the turn of the 21st century, much of that area was blighted: many of the facilities had fallen into disrepair and become under-utilized, and the city did not have the resources to upgrade roads and utilities in the area. The industrial district took its biggest hit in 2003 and 2004, after the Big Bear grocery chain’s administrative headquarters and distribution centers shut down and vacated its extensive operations. This resulted in a loss of almost $1MM in annual income tax revenue to the city, and the declining real estate and condition of the remaining buildings negatively impacted property tax revenue.

In 2006, NRI, the real estate investment and development arm of Nationwide Mutual Insurance, and other Columbus developers began assembling the properties that made up the Big Bear complex and nearby properties to propose a mixed-use development. Mixed-use refers to a combination of office, retail, residential and other uses that co-exist to maximize land use and revenue opportunities while serving the community.  The developers and the city then entered into a private-public partnership, investing tens of millions of dollars into the neglected infrastructure in order to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in development of commercial office and retail projects as well as residential components.

Big Bear site

The unsecured bonds were sold with only a pledge to use a portion of the income taxes generated by new jobs in Grandview Yard, and a portion of the property taxes from the Grandview Yard area, as the sole sources of repayment. No money generated from other areas of the city was pledged or used for the debt repayment.  This unique financing plan enabled a small city to successfully take on a new project of such a grand scale.

Since that time, and in spite of the 2008 recession, Grandview Yard has continued to thrive because it has remained a flexible project. In 2014, Nationwide Insurance proposed a revised redevelopment plan, pledging to build three large office properties in the Yard and relocate over 3,200 good-paying jobs from around the region into the Yard. It has also built a second hotel, a conference facility, more speculative office space and apartments, for-sale residential units and finished the public infrastructure. 

Redevelopment of Grandview Yard

 

2. If the pace of redevelopment has gone so well, why hasn’t the flow of tax revenue made its way into the Grandview schools’ coffers?

This goes back to the history lesson above. In 2004 when I first took office, 60 of the 90 acres of what is now the Yard were vacant or not fully activated as commercial or industrial properties. The county appraised value of the blighted property started to be lowered thereby reducing the property taxes collected and resulting in reduced property taxes to the school.  

 

With that in mind, the initial economic development deal between NRI and the city and the city and the school, included a promise not have the school property tax revenue reduced below what was collected in the 2009 County appraised value. It also included paying the school district an amount equal to any loss in county tax revenue first from any tax property proceeds that came off the property from the “PILOT” money, essentially making the school district whole. (See below) This was important to the school district during negotiations. The district is, and still is, first in line to receive money from Grandview Yard, ahead of the library and the holders of the infrastructure bonds. For the school to be in the first position in receiving tax proceeds, even ahead of the bondholders, shows the level of commitment and contemplative thought placed on those who will be impacted. (Keep in mind, this commitment was made when barely 25% of the Yard was even conceptualized, and this was a decision that was made knowing it would mean a long-term benefit for the district.) In fact, during the first few years of the Grandview Yard redevelopment, the only entity to receive money from the Yard project was the school district. The school compensation agreement also allowed the district to experience upside sharing a percentage of the new property taxes generated by the new construction.

 

Any property tax generated at Grandview Yard above the base value established by the County in 2009 is collected into a fund known as a PILOT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) Fund. These are the property tax dollars used to pay for infrastructure improvements at the Grandview Yard and to pay the School District.

 

The School District share of PILOTS, after the make-whole amount, varies from an increase of 11% for retail and commercial projects and up to 30% for residential projects. The residential percentage starts at 15% and increases by 5% for every additional few hundred units. The residential percentage also increases by 10% every 15 years initially and then every 5 years after that. 

Under this tiered and somewhat complicated system, the school has received over $2.6 million in additional funding above the make-whole amount. Unfortunately, these increases were offset by unilateral reductions in state funding to the school district, which brings us to:

 

3. Why the attempt to renegotiate the school compensation agreement now?

The great success of the Yard re-development, from a blighted brownfield industrial zone with almost no public infrastructure, into a thriving mixed-use project that has full occupancy, allows us at this time to look at bringing additional funds to the district while capturing the momentum of redevelopment in the Yard and nearby redevelopments, such as the White Castle headquarters site on Goodale Street in Columbus and the former W.W. Williams Co. site on Goodale Boulevard in Grandview. 

 

The current proposal would increase the amount the school district receives from the PILOT Fund to 45% of all money collected. This is based on all the property taxes collected in the PILOT, including not only school levies, but also city, library and various county agencies. Negotiations between the city, the school district, and the developer toward that end continue, and, if successful, could conclude in a few weeks. This would bring tens of millions of dollars to the school over the remaining life of the bonds.

Thanks for reading this background information as the City and Grandview schools work toward a financial arrangement that will more cash for the schools, even as the City encourages development south of Goodale Boulevard.

Next week, I’ll write more about the launch of the holiday happenings in the Heights and the city’s budgets.

Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes to all of the residents of Grandview Heights.

Tuesday Top 5 is a weekly update from Mayor Ray DeGraw and the City of Grandview Heights. For more information, visit GrandviewHeights.org. 

Sign up here to get text or email alerts with the latest news from the City of Grandview Heights: https://www.grandviewheights.org/list.aspx?ListID=261


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