Township JEDD falls flat


By Amanda Amsel
Staff Writer

The proposed joint economic development district (JEDD) for Franklin Township is at a standstill as property and business owners consider their options.

“We have talked to property and business owners in great detail and they have expressed limited interest,” said Phil Honsey, a contracted township representative responsible for implementing the JEDD. “Right now there is no immediate action and I have recommended to the trustees that we give it a rest for a while and let the opportunities develop.”

Honsey was hired by the township in February to help implement the JEDD. His contact expired at the end of August. Honsey said he is suspending his efforts due to his contract coming to an end.

Honsey was paid $12,000 by the township. If he would have gotten the JEDD implemented, he would have received an additional $10,000.

“I was hired by the trustees to engage property and business owners and that is what I have done,” he said. “I’m not walking away from the township, but I’m suspending my efforts because my contract has expired.”

Over the past six months, Honsey has presented information to the trustees about the benefits of bringing a JEDD to the township. To date, no businesses have agreed to enter into the JEDD.

The proposed JEDD would create more revenue for the township by collecting an income tax from businesses who agree to participate. In return for agreeing to participate, the township would use a portion of the revenue to improve the JEDD area.

The township has agreed to concentrate on the commercial property that is south of Broad Street and west of Georgesville Road.

If employees of the businesses that enter the JEDD live in the unincorporated area, they will pay an income tax they currently aren’t paying. However, according to Honsey, most of the employees in this area are already paying this income tax because they live in an area that collects income tax.

“Out of the money collected, 70 percent would go back into the JEDD area as an investment in the business district,” Honsey said. “Franklin Township would receive 15 percent of the tax dollars and Columbus would receive the other 15 percent.”

Part of the agreement states that the township must use the majority of the tax dollars on improvements to the JEDD area. Township officials had previously discussed doing smaller projects, like paving roads and doing larger projects once the JEDD has been in place for a while.

Franklin Township trustee Don Cook said the township has not given up on establishing a JEDD.

“I think these property and business owners are being fed the wrong information from someone else behind the scenes and we need to stop that,” Cook said. “We are going to meet soon and discuss next steps and if we should renew Phil’s contract so he can continue to engage these people.”

While the township is still not sure how much money the proposed JEDD could collect for the township, they said a JEDD in neighboring Prairie Township has brought between $2 million and $3 million annually.

“There are a lot of other factors going on that are completely external from Franklin Township,” Honsey said. “Right now we need to let the property and business owners evaluate their development options and capabilities and see if they think a public and private partnership through the JEDD will help in their redevelopment.”

Franklin Township has until Dec. 31, 2017 to get a JEDD into place. If they succeed, Columbus would not be able to annex the area for another 50 years.

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