LORAIN — The Lorain school board has yet to vote on a potential tax abatement for a brewery on Broadway in part because of a clerical error.
City Safety-Service Director Dan Given said developer Vic Nardini is working to rehabilitate 383 Broadway and requested a 100 percent, 15-year tax abatement for the $4 million project. While City Council has the final vote on the matter, it first has to get approved by the Board of Education.
“On June 18 (Deputy Safety-Service Director) Phil Dore dropped off informational packets on the abatement at the school administration office, one for the school board and another out of courtesy for the CEO,” Given said. “We had a signed letter saying they received it and then we waited for them to respond.”
Given said typically the board then discusses and votes on the abatement but as far as he knew, that never happened.
“I reached out to (school board president) Tony Dimacchia Tuesday and he said he didn’t know what I was talking about,” he said. “So I sent him the necessary paperwork and you know, they have a little time to take care of it because City Council doesn’t come back from its summer recess until September, but they’ll still need to make a decision.”
Dimacchia said when Given contacted him he was “alarmed” that the school board never received the information.
“We’re really lucky he reached out because it had been almost two months later,” he said. “What motivation would there be for us to not get something like that?”
In an email Wednesday, Alisha Pardon, the executive secretary for Treasurer Josh Hill, confirmed she was the one who signed for the delivery of the packets but made an error after receiving them.
“It is my mistake in assuming that it was the same tax abatement that was on the agenda scheduled June 18,” she said.
At the school board’s June 18 meeting, the same day the packets were delivered, the body was considering tax abatement for the Broadway Building project at 301 Broadway, just down the street from 383 Broadway, the former Cleveland Trust Bank.
Dimacchia, who is a vocal critic of the new power structure of Lorain Schools in which a CEO is in charge and took over many of the school board’s duties, had said he was skeptical as to why the board never received the information packet for consideration, noting he believed it was the administration’s way of controlling what went on the board’s agenda.
“This isn’t something he needs to approve and (District CEO David Hardy has) tried to slip things onto our agenda before,” he said. “They don’t decide what’s a priority for the Board of Education.”
This isn’t the first time Dimacchia has expressed concerns. Last month, Hill, who also serves as the district’s chief strategy and innovation officer, put a measure on the board’s agenda, without approval from the board, to get the ball rolling on placing a renewal levy on the ballot.
The board members present at the meeting voted to table the measure because the majority have said they won’t place a levy on the ballot until they receive more information from Hardy as to how he’s governing the district.
Given said he doesn’t know what occurred after the packets were delivered but, according to Dimacchia, the board hadn’t seen or heard anything about it.
“I’m just looking for a letter about whether or not they’d recommend it to City Council or not,” he said. “The city’s involvement here is pretty limited. This is 100 percent a school issue.”
After receiving Pardon’s email explanation Wednesday, Dimacchia said he was still skeptical.
“This district under this CEO has taken on a process of deception, spinning of information and failure to communicate with the elected board,” he said. “So I’m not sure what to believe.”