There was no comment from the public when Prairie Township trustees and members of Obetz Village Council held a joint meeting Sept. 28 to discuss the creation of a JEDZ (Joint Economic Development District).

There was no comment from the public when Prairie Township trustees and members of Obetz Village Council held a joint meeting Sept. 28 to discuss the creation of a JEDZ (Joint Economic Development District).

A public hearing was held at Prairie Township Hall, where both the township and village had the opportunity to speak about the potential to partner in order to spur economic development in both communities.

On Nov. 8, township residents will be asked to vote whether to create a JEDZ by partnering with the village of Obetz. Both entities have worked together to draft a JEDZ agreement, as well as a proposed CEDA (Cooperative Economic Development Agreement).

The JEDZ agreement would create the zone itself, while the CEDA would allow Obetz to collect the income tax, something state law prohibits the township from doing.

“The JEDZ is a way for institutions such as hospitals and schools, as well as businesses, in the West Broad Street commercial area to help township residents pay the bills,” said Prairie Township trustee Doug Stormont.

He said a large majority of employees in the West Broad Street commercial area already pay taxes to the cities where they live.

The JEDZ is a way to redirect those tax dollars back into the township, he said.

“The JEDZ would redirect the lion’s share of this money so that it contributes toward controlling Prairie Township residents’ taxes,” Stormont said. “In the meantime, these funds would also allow the township to maintain and even improve vital local services that are threatened by state cuts and the economic downturn.”

Obetz Mayor Rod Davisson said this is an exciting venture for both communities.

“We are excited about this opportunity in an era of shrinking govern-ment and to join the talents of these two communities to better provide for the residents and our constituents,” Davison said.

He said the two communities have a different development focus, with Obetz leaning toward industrial development and the township leaning toward commercial development.

“The purpose of this is to create an economic synergy between the two communities,” Davisson said. “I believe that we can create more economic opportunity for both communities by working together.”

Stormont said that if residents approve Issue 10, which creates the JEDZ, the money will be used to maintain and improve law enforcement, reconstruct and improve West Broad Street, eliminate and redevelop blighted property, and build a community center, among other uses.

“Obetz is willing to work with the township and will not compete with us geographically or in terms of the types of businesses it recruits,” Stormont said. “Because of this, Obetz is in a position to cooperate with Prairie Township in marketing the West Broad Street commercial area for development and redevelopment projects.”

Davisson said he is proud to be at the forefront of such a creative way to obtain revenue. More communities are sure to follow suit, he said.

“We are constantly looking for ways to integrate communities and services while still providing those fantastic services residents have come to expect,” Davisson said.

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