A vision clinic with locations in Perry and Massillon wants to expand in North Canton, if the city provides a tax break.
North Canton City Council on Monday approved the first reading of a Community Reinvestment Area Tax Incentive for Insight Reality, which operates The Eye Clinic. The company wants to build, own and lease a third office at a long-time vacant property on Portage Street NW.
Two more readings are needed to enact the incentive, which would reduce the property tax by 50 percent for a 15-year period.
Council President Jon Snyder said the reduction would cost the city about $7,300 in property taxes, but North Canton could gain $180,000 from new income and property taxes in the same 15-year period. He said cities are increasingly offering incentives to compete with other cities and outlying areas.
"These are jobs most sought after by most municipalities," Snyder said after the meeting.
In addition to bringing 18 new jobs in a field known for its business longevity, Snyder said the development would beautify a city entryway. The lot west of Portage Place Office Condominiums has been vacant since the city annexed it in 1990.
Councilman Mark Cerreta questioned why the city needed to commit to a 15-year agreement if the city has so much to offer, and said during the meeting that he would like more evidence the city will get a return on its investment.
North Canton resident Chuck Osborne spoke against tax incentives during the public comment period, saying the city is tax breaks out like "candy."
"You're just handing out money that your school system needs," Osborne said.
The development would generate about $4,619 a year in property tax revenue for the North Canton City School District, according to city documents.
Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling said during the meeting that a 50 percent tax reduction is typical. She said the city has already granted four at the same rate: three incentives for 10 years and one incentive for 12. The businesses' are examined every year to make sure the incentives are put to good use.
"We can always rescind them as well," Kiesling said.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the incentive. The next meeting is 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 145 N. Main St.
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