Prairie Township trustees voted unanimously July 27 in favor on legislation that will allow the township to place a JEDZ (Joint Economic Development District) on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Prairie Township trustees voted unanimously July 27 in favor on legislation that will allow the township to place a JEDZ (Joint Economic Development District) on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The measure was voted on at the board of trustees' regular meeting; a public hearing on the issue took place before the meeting. While trustees entertained questions from two residents who attended the public hearing, there were no business representatives in attendance to speak for or against the proposed JEDZ.

The JEDZ is a way for the township to collect a 2 percent tax from identified businesses along the West Broad Street corridor. It will also enable the township to redirect tax dollars back to the township from those employees who work in the West Broad Street corridor but don't live in the township.

Because Ohio law prohibits townships from collecting income tax, Prairie Township is partnering with the village of Obetz, which will serve as the entity to collect the income tax. Once collected, Obetz will be able to keep 20 percent while the township will retain 80 percent of the revenue.

"On Monday evening (July 25), Obetz had a public meeting and approved the agreement," township administrator Tracy Hatmaker reported. "This is an opportunity to make improvements that only a municipality can develop. This corridor has a lot of potential with just a little investment. The JEDZ is important in that way."

If Prairie Township residents vote to approve the JEDZ, the township can expect to collect between $1.5 millionand $2 million in new revenue.

Passage of the measure would be needed, trustees have said, to offset the possibility of steep cuts that include the elimination of the senior center; a decrease in the Franklin County Sheriff's contract by 20 percent; cutting the road maintenance program in half; cutting the zoning department by $50,000; and cutting administrative costs by $17,000.

"This board has always been fiscally responsible and we believe in not spending more than we bring in," trustee Steve Kennedy said. "I believe township residents have a better quality of life than our city neighbors."

If the JEDZ issue is approved, it will not mean a new tax on Prairie Township residents, Kennedy said. The only residents it will affect are those residents who work in the West Broad Street corridor.

Kennedy estimates that is less than 200 residents would be affected. More than 18,000 people reside in the township, he said.