The Etna Township economic development committee and transportation task force met May 31 to consider a new Joint Economic Development District.
Attorney John Albers II explained how a JEDD works and the steps Etna Township trustees have to take to establish one, which still could be established this year.
The JEDD is a special cooperative tax and expenditure agreement that could be signed between Etna Township and the city of Reynoldsburg.
It allows local governments such as townships that do not collect an income tax to enter into an agreement with jurisdictions that have income taxes, such as cities, and apply the tax to the designated areas.
Etna Township trustees are considering a JEDD on land north and south of Interstate 70.
Albers said the JEDD could be set up this year if all documentation is approved before October.
Albers suggested the trustees consider including adjacent land in a JEDD expansion area, which could be listed in the JEDD agreements and easily brought into the JEDD if something changes on the land, such as if the zoning on a property changes to a commercial zoning, for example.
Albers said through a JEDD, the township and Reynoldsburg would collect income taxes from people employed by businesses in the designated area and net profit taxes from business owners, as well.
He said both types of taxes must be collected in a JEDD.
Judy Brachman, a task force member, asked if those taxes could deter a business from locating in a JEDD.
Etna Township Trustee John Carlisle said Brian Marsh of ProLogis, a local developer, said businesses never ask about local income taxes when seeking a location.
Rob O'Neill, a task force member and president of the Southgate Corp., which owns 90 acres of undeveloped land in the potential JEDD, said the business owners need to be told about the JEDD.
"I think companies need to see some benefit from the JEDD," O'Neill said. "If there is a benefit for them, they'll support it."
Albers said the township should designate how JEDD revenues would be used, including a percentage devoted to infrastructure in local business campuses.
He said the township and the city of Reynoldsburg would have to adopt legislation for the JEDD. They would hold separate public hearings to review maps and other documents related to the agreement.
The JEDD also has to be approved by the Licking County commissioners, who would review the documents to make sure trustees unanimously approved the agreement.
The majority of the landowners also must agree to be in the JEDD and the land in the district must be zoned appropriately for the district, according to Albers.
If all those conditions are met, the JEDD could be established without approval of the electorate, Albers said.
The meeting was attended by economic development committee members Len Fatica, Nelson Kohman and Mark Schaff and task force members Brachman, O'Neill, Joy Davis and Dick Knapp.
The Etna Township trustees agreed May 7 to spend up to $2,500 to hire attorneys Albers and Albers of Columbus to prepare documentation for the agreement.