Q: What is a Joint Economic Development District?
A: A Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) describes the result of an arrangement between a township and a city (or village) that allows them to share the benefits and responsibilities of commercial and industrial development in Ohio. A JEDD permits a regional approach to economic development.
*For this article, the word “city” represents either a city or a village that might join with a township to develop a JEDD.
Q: How does a JEDD benefit a city?
A: If a city annexes property, it must provide all the city services to those properties, including expensive police and fire protection, zoning, road development and water and sewer services. By using a JEDD, the city can obtain a portion of an income tax levied by the JEDD without annexing the property, and without providing all municipal services. The city benefits because its share of the JEDD income tax revenues can go into its general fund. The city also benefits by avoiding the animosity that annexation can cause between local governments that should be working together to serve area citizens.
Q: How does a township benefit from a JEDD?
A: Normally, a city that is party to a JEDD agrees not to annex property anywhere within the JEDD, or anywhere within the township, for the duration of the JEDD term. This agreement allows the township to preserve its geographic integrity as a political subdivision while continuing to receive all the real estate taxes from the property. Also, the township and city may agree to share the JEDD income tax revenue, which gives the township access to a new revenue source. This share of income tax revenue allows the township to continue to provide local services without constantly asking residents for real estate tax increases.
Q: Must the township and the city be located next to each other in order to form a JEDD?
A: No. Property need not be contiguous. In fact, a JEDD can be formed between a township and a city even if there is another township or city in between the two borders that is not a party to the JEDD. Property must be zoned and used for commercial or industrial purposes. Residential zones may be included in the JEDD if no electors live there on the effective date of the JEDD contract. The income of an individual who lives in the JEDD is not subject to income tax, unless the income is received for personal services performed in the district.
Q: Why would a property owner want to be part of a JEDD?
A: Many property owners need city services, such as water and sewer, that may not be available in townships. Through a JEDD, a property owner can access those services without having the property annexed into the city. Some JEDDs provide that a certain percentage of the JEDD income tax (say, 20 percent) must be put into a fund to be used only within the JEDD area. Such funds might be used to extend infrastructure (such as roads, water lines, sewer lines, street lighting, curbs and sidewalks) necessary for industrial and commercial development.
Q: Can a JEDD benefit residents who are not included in the JEDD?
A: Yes. Many JEDD agreements in Ohio allow for residential service areas that are not required to join the JEDD and, therefore, do not pay a JEDD income tax. Nearby cities generally agree to provide water or sewer services to those residential areas without annexing them. Often, these services are provided at either the same rates as city residents pay, or at a much lower surcharge than other out-of-city residential users generally pay for water or sewer. The logic is that, since the city will pass by residential customers when it runs water and sewer lines to the commercial and industrial property covered by a JEDD, the city might as well allow those residential customers access to the city’s water and sewer services.
Law You Can Use is a weekly consumer legal information column provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). This article was prepared by Akron attorney Al Schrader, who represents local Ohio governments on JEDDs, annexation and similar legal matters.