Pickerington City Council met Dec. 18 to discuss a proposed Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) that it may enter into with neighboring communities.
One issue behind the JEDD is that the cities involved – Pickerington, Canal Winchester and Lancaster – lack land within their boundaries for commercial growth while the townships involved – Violet and Bloom – have land. By law, townships cannot collect income tax. However, as members of a JEDD, they may receive a fraction of the income tax collected by the JEDD.
Each of the five communities will hold public meetings within the next few months to discuss the proposed agreement. After the public meetings, each community’s governing body must sign a contract which then goes to the county commissioners for approval. If the commissioners approve the contract, businesses may join the JEDD, said attorney Al Schrader, who is assisting with the process.
Only industrial and commercial developments will be eligible to enter the JEDD and they maintain the option not to join. The townships may offer incentives to encourage businesses to join.
Businesses within the JEDD would pay a two percent income tax. Fifteen percent of the income tax would be provided to the township in which the business lies, 35 percent would be allocated to the JEDD’s infrastructure fund, and the remaining income would be split between the five communities.
The infrastructure fund covers items such as roads, Schrader said.
A board of five people would govern the JEDD and the state requires that the board be comprised of one business representative, one township representative, one city representative, one municipal employee and a fifth position to be determined by the other four. Each board member would serve a four year term, Schrader said.
Legal challenges could arise if a neighboring municipality tried to annex land in the proposed JEDD area, but that is unlikely because that municipality would be facing the legal might of all five JEDD entities, Schrader said.
Pickerington Mayor David Shaver said the only municipality that could try to annex JEDD property would be the village of Carroll and he did not expect Carroll to want a "knock down, drag out" fight. Carroll "is not like Columbus or Cleveland."
Counties by law cannot join a JEDD, but Fairfield County would still benefit from the agreement, Schrader said. The county would receive part of the property taxes from the new developments in addition to sales tax from retail developments. With more job opportunities, the county would have fewer people needing welfare.
Lack of jobs has caused many young people to leave the area and the state separating parents from their grown children.
"Who wants to go 600 miles to visit their grandkids?" Schrader said.
Although Lancaster does not border the two townships in which the JEDD physically would be located, it was included with the hopes that the district would continue to spread south along U.S. 33, said Violet Township Trustee Gary Weltlich.