Worthington News

May 6 ballot

JEDZ issue's legality called into question


Two Perry Township businesses and a resident filed a protest last week to remove from the May 6 ballot a proposal to establish an income tax in the township.

The protest, filed with the Franklin County Board of Elections, maintains that township trustees illegally voted during a closed meeting to pursue the joint economic-development zone that would set up the tax.

An elections board official said the matter would be discussed during the board's March 3 meeting.

The protest was filed by the owners of Nikolas M. Savko & Sons and Lincoln Construction, whose employees would be assessed the 2.5-percent income tax, and township resident William E. Lehner. The two companies also would have to pay a 2.5-percent tax on their net profits if township voters approve the tax measure.

The companies' representatives and Lehner want the elections board to investigate how the trustees voted to pursue the so-called JEDZ with the city of Worthington. A state law allows townships to use the taxing authority of a municipality to impose an income tax. Townships by themselves are prohibited from levying the tax.

Gordon P. Shuler, an attorney for those protesting the measure, said the trustees abused the executive-session provisions of the state law that would allow closed meetings to discuss economic development.

Shuler contended the exemption applies when a private company is seeking economic assistance from a public entity. He said the closed meetings occurred Oct. 12 and Nov. 18, 2012, before the JEDZ even existed.

Township trustee Chet J. Chaney referred all questions to the township's attorney, Donald Brosius, whose office said he was unavailable to comment last week.