The fate of multicity and township Joint Economic Development Zones will be pondered today by a forum hosted by two state senators who could have a vote on the subject as soon as next month.
House Bill 289, which recently passed the Ohio House overwhelmingly, would strip the city of Toledo and other local governments of their authority to create such zones that geographically target economic development efforts and allows cooperating governments to share in income taxes generated there.
Lawmakers remain on spring break for two more weeks, giving players some time to work on a possible compromise.
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins is among those who have objected to the bill sponsored by Rep. Kirk Schuring (R., Canton). Mr. Schuring said he wants to crack down on abuses of JEDZs in which local governments join forces to envelop existing businesses into zones in order to increase income tax collections.
He has discussed a potential amendment that has not yet been added to the bill that would allow Toledo and other cities to keep their existing JEDZs and seek their regular renewals as long as they don’t raise the tax rates or geographically expand the zones.
Toledo, however, argues the amendment would still endanger the city’s plans to create and expand zones.
City Councilman Jack Ford spoke out Thursday against the bill, and said business leaders should join the city in its opposition to the proposed changes. He specifically referenced a JEDZ with Toledo, Maumee, and Monclova Township where a Dana Corp. facility was built. The JEDZ allowed each municipality to reap some benefit from the development, instead of pitting them against one another.
“We really need to fight this one,” Mr. Ford said.
Sen. Randy Gardner (R., Bowling Green), who serves on the Senate Finance Committee considering the bill, and Sen. Edna Brown (D., Toledo), who does not, will host the forum from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Depot Ballroom of the Holiday Inn French Quarter on U.S. 20 in Perrysburg.
Representatives of local government, businesses, labor, developers, and the general public are invited to participate. Testimony is expected to be limited to five minutes with additional time provided for possible questions. Reservations are not necessary. For more information, call Mr. Gardner’s office at 614-466-8060 or firstname.lastname@example.org.