The city of Bexley has offered to share its income tax rate and local resources with the city of Powell and Liberty Township in Delaware County as part of a Joint Economic Development Zone.
Establishing a JEDZ would allow Powell and Liberty to collect income taxes at Bexley's rate of 2.5 percent until 2043. If a JEDZ is created, income taxes would be collected from workers whose companies fall within the zone's boundaries, which include Liberty Township-owned properties, Olentangy Local schools located in Liberty Township, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Zoombezi Bay, Safari Golf Course, Del-Co Water, Delaware County Sanitary and Columbus State Community College's Delaware Branch.
JEDZ districts were initially created to help cash-strapped townships that aren't legally authorized to collect income taxes, so as part of the partnership, Bexley will act as the collecting agent.
Research done by Powell officials shows the parcels in the proposed JEDZ have an estimated annual payroll of $52 million. If the 2.5-percent income tax is applied, that would add an estimated $1.3 million to the JEDZ fund.
Those earnings would be allocated by percentage -- 3 percent to the Regional Tax Income Agency, 2 percent for legal fees, 10 percent to projects within the JEDZ territory, 5 percent to joint projects between Powell and Liberty, 44 percent to Powell, 44 percent to Liberty and 14.2 percent to Bexley.
"Collaboration, cooperation, shared services -- these are all buzz words in local government right now and for good reason," Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said. "We need to be more efficient and we need to be partners in things, and on top of that, (the JEDZ) is obviously economically beneficial to all parties involved."
A JEDZ board made of up nine representatives -- three each from Bexley, Powell and Liberty Township -- would serve as advisers on how to spend the income tax earnings. Kessler said the 12 percent of those funds that Bexley would receive would more than offset the small projected costs of sharing services such as economic development strategies and arborist expertise with Liberty and Powell.
Powell and Liberty Township residents must approve the JEDZ contract on the Nov. 5 ballot to create the district.
Although the JEDZ contract will appear before Bexley City Council, it does not require a vote from Bexley residents. If Bexley residents were ever to increase or decrease the income tax rate through a vote, however, that would apply to the JEDZ.
Liberty Township will hold a public hearing on the JEDZ proposal at 7:30 p.m. July 29 at the Liberty Township Complex, 7761 Liberty Road.