Worthington News

Economic development

Perry Township, Worthington mull JEDZ partnership

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Perry Township and the city of Worthington might enter into an agreement that would provide money for improvements to township business areas by levying an income tax on some people who work in the township.

Both jurisdictions have taken the first steps toward creating a joint economic development zone, commonly known as a JEDZ, a partnership that would raise and oversee the spending of funds for economic improvements to areas around township businesses.

Perry Township, with a population of approximately 3,700, is in northwest Franklin County, with portions bordering Worthington. It includes most of Worthington Hills, Brookside Estates and parts of West Dublin-Granville Road, Riverside Drive and Bethel Road.

Jeff Harris, Worthington's economic development director, said he thinks 53 parcels are in the proposed JEDZ area and that it includes all commercial property in Perry Township.

"It is an opportunity for both of us. We're natural partners," said Chet Chaney, Perry Township trustees chairman.

Businesses in the township frequently approach the trustees with needs to improve the area, and the trustees cannot help because of a lack of funds. Unlike municipalities, townships are prohibited from collecting income tax, relying solely on property tax for revenue.

The state legislature created JEDZ plans to get around that prohibition, according to Worthington City Council member Scott Myers.

Essentially, the township would borrow the city's taxing rights, with the city being paid for being a partner.

In this case, if voters of Perry Township approve, employees within the township's defined JEDZ area would pay a 2.5-percent income tax.

That would raise an estimated $292,000 annually. Less income-tax collection fees and JEDZ board administration, net annual revenues are estimated at $280,351.

The plan being put forth by the city and township calls for the township to receive 70 percent, or approximately $196,246; the city 20 percent, $56,070; and the JEDZ board 10 percent, $28,035.

Perry trustees and Worthington representatives have been negotiating terms of the JEDZ since last summer.

The city will hold a public hearing on the issue Jan. 6, and the township hearing will be Jan. 13.

Both must approve the partnership in January to meet the filing deadline with the Franklin County Board of Elections to put the income-tax issue on the Perry Township ballot in May. Worthington residents do not vote on the tax, which would be levied only on those people who work in the JEDZ designation of Perry Township and on the net profits of Perry Township businesses within the JEDZ.

Once a JEDZ is designated, each political subdivision would appoint three people to a board of directors, which would oversee the spending of the economic development funds.

Other JEDZ partnerships in central Ohio include a Blendon Township-Westerville zone, created in 2012. The township receives 75 percent of the 2-percent income-tax revenue.

The Prairie Township-Obetz JEDZ was created in 2011 and includes parcels along West Broad Street, from I-270 to Hilliard-Rome Road.

Newark and Etna Township have two JEDZ plans in place.

Gahanna and Jefferson Township are considering one.

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