by Marc Kovac, The Vindicator’s Statehouse correspondent
Not too long after I started covering the Statehouse six years ago, I began keeping tabs on Ohio’s Tax Credit Authority.
Each month, I look over the panel’s agenda, searching for companies of local interest. Wherever one from Youngstown or Defiance or Cambridge or Wooster or other communities is up for a tax break, I try to attend.
It’s always a challenge.
During the public portion of the sessions, the authority members and representatives of companies and the communities where they are considering expansions talk around some conference tables.
There’s no microphone or speaker system, so it’s tough for people with hearing issues (like me) to hear everything that’s being said.
But you can talk to the participants in the hallway afterward and ask for project scopes from the state’s Development Services Agency. The latter are one-page summaries that lay out the facts about expansion plans and tax breaks that are granted.
Most of the time, as part of the release, reporters are able to get an estimate from development officials about how much awarded credits would save recipient companies on their tax bills.
But sometime in the not-too-distant past, the Development Services Agency decided to stop providing that information. Asked about the change, a spokesman told the Gongwer News Services something about trade secrets.