Summit County will retire roughly $2 million of tax increment financing bonds 10 years early since tax collections have exceeded annual debt service, County Executive Russell Pry said Monday in his first state of the county address. He spoke at the Akron Press Club in Akron, the state capital, which is located in the county.

“Due to the county of Summit’s involvement in this project, a total of $564,000 in annual new tax revenues will be put back into our community 10 years early,” Pry told reporters during his address. “This is a prime example of the benefits community and economic development programs can bring to our community.”

Issued in 1996, the bonds were used to extend the county’s Embassy Parkway and install water and sanitary sewer lines. The $564,000 in annual collections will now be distributed among 12 government entities.

In an effort to bring down its growing foreclosure rate, Summit plans to launch a foreclosure prevention program that would provide financially strapped homeowners with up to $5,000 in one-time “rescue funds,” Pry said. The county plans to partner with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority for the program.

There were 4,525 foreclosures in Summit County in 2007 — an “astounding figure,” Pry said, adding  that they show no signs of slowing down in 2008.

Pry also announced the government is considering a county-wide transportation improvement district to improve infrastructure, as well as using federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s community development block grant program to improve aging local public infrastructure. The county may partner with the Summit County Port Authority for the infrastructure improvement program.

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