Bexley News

Council vote on proposed JEDZ slated Aug. 13

Proposal would require Bexley council's approval as well as that of voters in Powell, Liberty Township

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Bexley City Council members continue to discuss legislation that would create a Joint Economic Development Zone with the city of Powell and Liberty Township, hearing a second reading of the legislation at a June 25 meeting.

According to the legislation, the new entity would be called the "PBL Joint Economic Development Zone" and would facilitate economic growth "for the benefit of Powell, Bexley, Liberty and the state, and their residents."

Establishing a JEDZ would allow Powell and Liberty Township to collect income taxes at Bexley's rate of 2.5 percent until 2043, with Bexley acting as the collecting agent.

Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said the JEDZ is estimated to generate $200,000 in additional annual revenue for Bexley.

"We, through (the Regional Tax Income Agency), collect taxes for the JEDZ," he said.

If a JEDZ is created, the 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. Powell officials estimate the proposed JEDZ would 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, with portions going to Powell, Liberty Township, Bexley and the Regional Tax Income Agency, as well as toward legal fees, projects within the JEDZ territory and joint projects between Powell and Liberty Township.

A JEDZ board made up of nine representatives -- three each from Bexley, Powell and Liberty Township -- would serve as advisers on how to spend the income tax earnings.

Bexley Councilman Richard Sharp, chairman of council's finance committee, said the JEDZ would allow Powell and Liberty Township to "achieve some of their economic goals and allow Bexley to generate some additional revenue."

Attorney Mark Fisher answered council members' questions about how the JEDZ would function. He said residents who don't work within the JEDZ would not be affected by the income tax.

"Being a resident does not subject someone to the income tax," he said. "It's about working in the JEDZ."

Bexley City Council is scheduled to vote on establishing the JEDZ at its Aug. 13 meeting. The JEDZ does not require a vote of approval from Bexley residents, but Powell and Liberty Township residents would have to approve the JEDZ contract on the Nov. 5 ballot to create the district.

In other business at the June 25 meeting, council members discussed the second reading of legislation that would allow a conditional-use permit for a bed and breakfast at 519 S. Drexel Ave.

Pete Foster, architect for applicants Michael and Lesli Mautz, said the proposed bed and breakfast would have five bedrooms. An existing four-space parking structure could be expanded, Foster said.

Herb Hoffman, who lives on Bryden Road near the proposed bed and breakfast, said he's concerned that the project might increase traffic in the area. Foster said the goal is only to increase foot traffic to businesses on the nearby East Main Street commercial corridor.

Kessler said there will be a public meeting that will allow residents to provide feedback about the proposed bed and breakfast before council takes action on the legislation the project at its Aug. 13 meeting.

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