Centerville files sues Sugarcreek Twp.

Centerville is accusing the township of misusing TIF funds.

Centerville has filed a lawsuit against Sugarcreek Twp. to stop the township from receiving additional tax dollars from the Cornerstone of Centerville development and is accusing them of misusing more than $500,000 they have received.

Centerville charges in the lawsuit that Sugarcreek Twp. wrongfully received money from tax increment financing (TIF) and used the funds to pay for an unrelated project. The lawsuit was filed in Greene County Common Pleas Court on June 3.

“Money that was supposed to go to Sugarcreek Township Schools, the fire department, and to pay for the widening of Wilmington Pike is being redirected by their township trustees to their general fund,” Centerville City Manager Gregory Horn said.

Cornerstone of Centerville is a mixed-use development project that includes retail, commercial, office and residential space along Wilmington Pike and Feedwire Road.

Centerville said it will have spent more than $8 million to improving Wilmington Pike and Feedwire Road, while Sugarcreek Twp. has not made any improvements, according to the lawsuit.

Barry Tiffany, Sugarcreek Twp. administrator, said the money is being used for public projects and the township is surprised that Centerville is taking legal action. Tiffany said funds are distributed by the Greene County Auditor based on a valid TIF.

“We passed a TIF in 2006 prior to the annexation to construct Clyo Road and other infrastructure projects,” Tiffany said. “Clyo Road was built and Centerville does not like the fact that our TIF is in place and prevents them from diverting money for their projects.”

Tiffany said he is confident the court will find the township used the money properly.

“I think Centerville has grossly misrepresented things,” Tiffany said. “The money was used for public improvements… we do not have any issues with our audits.”

This is the most recent legal battle between Sugarcreek Twp. and Centerville. In 2015, Sugarcreek Twp. attempted put an issue before voters to create a new fire district that would exclude responding to emergencies in the Cornerstone development. Oberer Companies, which is developing Cornerstone, sued Sugarcreek over the, stating they had already paid taxes to the township in 2013 and 2014 for fire and EMS services.

In March, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the issue should come off the ballot for the primary election.