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Flats East Bank Tax Plan Passes Council, But May Not Survive

ideastream file photo by Nick Castele
ideastream file photo by Nick Castele

The measure may have passed council, but its survival isn’t guaranteed.

State law allows developers and local governments to create special districts in which the roads, sidewalks and other amenities are funded by what’s essentially a new sales tax. That charge would only be levied on products sold within the district.

Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman was hoping to use that model around the Flats East Bank, but he was up against a deadline— that state law expires in March.

And here’s where it gets complicated. Supporters didn’t just need the measure to pass. They needed it to pass with 12 votes. Then, by city charter, it could have taken effect in a matter of days, and met the deadline.

But the ordinance fell one vote short of that goal. Now, it could be 30 days before it takes effect—probably missing the window of opportunity.

Supporters want state lawmakers to extend the deadline. But also up in the air is whether Mayor Frank Jackson will approve or veto the bill.

"And the question is, 'What now?'" Cimperman said. "And the answer is I don’t know."

If the plan were to go through, council would meet to establish a seven-member board that would decide how to spend the money, with four members appointed by council and three by the developers. The board would collect a 1.5 percent sales tax and 2 percent taxes on parking and hotels in the Flats East Bank.

Nick Castele was a senior reporter covering politics and government for Ideastream Public Media. He worked as a reporter for Ideastream from 2012-2022.