COLUMBUS — The author of a bill that the city of Toledo maintains could cut the legs out of regional economic development efforts said Tuesday he will propose changes to let the city keep its existing Joint Economic Development Zones.
But he said the intent of the bill will remain to prevent the creation of future JEDZs with townships, some of which he says are “egregious tax grabs” on existing businesses without putting the money back into services for those businesses.
“It’s too easy to do the grab,” said state Rep. Kirk Schuring (R., North Canton). “All you have to do is have a bilateral agreement between the township and the municipality, and then they can go out and literally cherry-pick the businesses. In many instances, it’s the largest employers, public and private.”
Senate Bill 289, as now written and overwhelmingly passed in the House, would prohibit the creation of new JEDZs after Jan. 1. The city of Toledo, however, flagged a provision that appears to also block future renewal of existing JEDZs, such as those Toledo has now with the cities of Maumee and Rossford and the townships of Monclova and Perrysburg.
The bill is now before the Senate Finance Committee. Mr. Schuring said he will offer a revised bill at the next opportunity in hopes of addressing much of Toledo’s concern.
The proposed amendment would grandfather in existing JEDZs and allow for the renewal of those contracts as long as the renewal doesn’t involve a geographic expansion of the zone or an increase in the tax rate.
“In the Toledo area, they’ve done a number of these between two municipalities,” Mr. Schuring said. “I’m willing to work with them to make sure they can continue to do that. That’s not where the tax-grabbing has taken place.”
Eileen Granata, the city’s senior attorney, said the city is reserving judgment until it sees the details of Mr. Schuring’s proposed amendment.
“The grandfather [clause], I think, is absolutely essential,” she said. “We have an urban economy. So when you’re dealing with townships in the Toledo area, these aren’t rural townships in the middle of nowhere. They’re townships that are part of the urban economy, and you’ve got to understand that the infrastructure you have for that region is what supports the business community.”
The bill passed the House this year with support from all Toledo’s representatives. After Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins raised questions, there was a rush to protect existing JEDZs before the bill passes the Senate.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.