Blendon Township is in the early stages of evaluating a possible joint economic development zone (JEDZ) agreement with the city of Westerville that would help the township "capture" lost revenue, according to development director Bryan Rhoads.

Blendon Township is in the early stages of evaluating a possible joint economic development zone (JEDZ) agreement with the city of Westerville that would help the township "capture" lost revenue, according to development director Bryan Rhoads.

"We are very early in the process and there is not a whole lot of information right now," Rhoads said.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, a JEDZ allows two or more municipalities to enter into an agreement to share the costs of improvements in designated areas for the purpose of facilitating commercial and economic development.

"Townships don't collect income taxes," Rhoads said. "A JEDZ is a way for us to grab some of the income taxes we're losing to other communities and apply them to projects, services and facilities to make Blendon a better place to live."

In a posting on the township's website, Rhoads estimated that a JEDZ with Westerville could generate up to $2 million a year in revenues for the township.

"We'd like Blendon Township in a way to be an extension of Westerville," he said. "We want to be good neighbors, so that when someone drives out of Westerville into Blendon, the transition is seamless."

The JEDZ process proscribed by the state requires public hearings to determine the terms of the contract and to designate the development zones. Subsequently, a JEDZ ordinance would be put to a vote by the residents of the township.

Rhoads is currently seeking volunteers to assist him in the JEDZ process.

"The main purpose of the committee will be to come up with ideas on how to educate the residents of Blendon about the JEDZ so that we can get it passed in the November election," he said.

Rhoads said the development zones would be restricted to commercial and business areas only and would not affect any residential areas.

"We don't want anyone to think we're raising taxes, because we're not," he said. "We're really just looking for a way to capture revenues lost when someone who works in Blendon Township pays taxes somewhere else."

Most agreements last for up to 30 years

"JEDZ are really tools to help smaller communities grow who otherwise couldn't afford the cost of expansion," Rhoads said.

Most JEDZ agreements last for up to 30 years. Several are in effect in central Ohio.

Prairie Township voted in November to approve a JEDZ with Obetz. In 2007, Etna Township entered into a JEDZ agreement with Newark. The dual boards of the JEDZ for the Etna Corporate Park held their annual meeting last June to discuss revenues and expenditures for the coming year.

As of June 1, 2011, that JEDZ had collected more than $85,000 in income taxes, with the full-year collections projected at $170,000.