By Gary Budzak
Delaware City Council agreed to start negotiations with Berkshire Township and the Village of Sunbury in the formation of a Joint Economic Development District.
Berkshire Administrator Bill Holtry and Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield discussed the advantages of a JEDD at City Council’s June 9 meeting.
Holtry said Delaware could administer the taxes for up to three JEDDs, starting with the proposed Simon Tanger outlet mall off the Interstate 71-U.S. 36-Ohio 37 interchange in the Township, then lands south of the mall to be annexed into Sunbury, and finally the Northstar commercial area.
“This is two-and-a-half times larger than Polaris,” Holtry said of the development. “It’s guaranteed income for 50 years. Everyone should be smiling.”
“This is about the residents of Delaware County, that people who build in this area pay for their impact,” Hatfield said. “There’s $200 million in infrastructure that has to happen out here. It’s going to take everything to make this work.”
Berkshire needs to partner with a city to collect an income tax from those employed in the JEDD. The three partners would collect the income tax revenues to fund infrastructure improvements in the area. In a June 6 memo, Economic Development Director Sean Hughes said Delaware could use the JEDD revenues for improving the 36/37 corridor.
“It’s a unique opportunity for us to partner in,” City Manager Tom Homan said. “It’s a regional project that impacts 36/37 and all of us. This gives us revenue to address our problems.”
Holtry and Hatfield said they initially approached Westerville about being a JEDD partner, but the city withdrew. Westerville was approached first because its income tax rate is 2 percent and Delaware’s is 1.85 percent.
Delaware County Administrator Tim Hansley recently told The Gazette that Westerville would have received about $50,000 annually in JEDD revenues.
It was estimated that Delaware would receive $54,900 per year in JEDD revenues; while Sunbury would receive $64,588 per year and Berkshire would receive $193,765 per year.
Council members said the JEDD might be helpful, but wondered if the cost of administration would offset revenues, and also questioned if the revenue estimates were accurate.
According to the city, negotiations would have to take place between the three partners over tax allocations, and Council would have to decide on whether to pass legislation to approve the JEDD. It was stressed that Council needs to act fast.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.