Township JEDD moving forward

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

The Franklin Township trustees are setting up a proposed joint economic development district (JEDD) in the township and have officially submitted a contract to the city of Columbus.

The JEDD would be setup in the Westland Mall area and would prohibit Columbus from annexing the area for another 50 years, according to township trustee Don Cook.

The township has been working on setting up the JEDD since 2015 with consultant Phil Honsey. In 2015, the township worked with Honsey for six months to move the JEDD forward and paid him $12,000. After six months, no businesses signed up to be a part of the JEDD, so the board put Honsey’s efforts on hold and did not renew his contract.

However, in early 2016 the trustees decided to start working with Honsey again to implement the JEDD and approved paying him $2,000 a month for an indefinite amount of time. Honsey’s fees included getting businesses to agree to be a part of the proposed JEDD, as well the implementation involved in it.

The township needed to get the JEDD in place by Dec. 31, 2017 or the area could be annexed by Columbus.

“We now have enough businesses signed up that we were able to turn the JEDD into the city,” Cook said. “The city is now reviewing the contact and after their questions are addressed, we will get this into place.”

The JEDD will consist of approximately 20 to 30 businesses, according to the contract the township submitted to the city.

The township needed 51 percent of the businesses in the JEDD region to sign up to implement it and they have received the signatures needed.

According to the contract submitted to Columbus, businesses who are a part of the JEDD would pay an additional 2.5 percent in income taxes and employees of these businesses would pay an additional 2.5 percent in income taxes.

As part of the JEDD, the township would take a portion of the revenue raised from the JEDD and reinvest it in the area where the participating businesses are located. A few of the improvements discussed included repaving the streets and repairing potholes.

“The money has to go into infrastructure improvements,” Cook said. “It can’t be used for remodel purposes.”

Trustee John Fleshman said he would like to use the money to redevelop the area, lower taxes for residents, improve the roads and ensure there is adequate fire and police services.

“First, we need to make sure we are offering these participating businesses excellent fire protection and police services,” he said. “Second, I would eventually love to build upon the business revenue and roll back some of the levies to help residents.”

Fleshman added that he doesn’t want to sit on surplus of money from the JEDD and instead wants to reinvest in the township.

“This is taxpayers’ money, so the fair thing to do is to use it to benefit taxpayers,” Fleshman said.

While township officials are still not sure how much money the proposed JEDD would collect, the JEDD in neighboring Prairie Township has brought between $2 million and $3 million annually.

Franklin Township hopes to start collecting on the JEDD in late 2017 and see the funds from it come in during 2018.

For more information on the JEDD, visit www.franklin-township.com.

 

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