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Published: Thursday, 6/26/2003

Shift urged in economic development agreement

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Maumee and Toledo officials will be asked to consider amending an economic development agreement with Monclova Township in an effort to reach a compromise with opponents who led a campaign against the issue last fall.

Brian Scilzo, a Monclova Township trustee, said he plans to ask city officials to meet with him to talk about changing the agreement to make it more palatable to opponents.

A year ago, the township, Toledo and Maumee announced a deal to establish a 579-acre joint economic development zone with shared income tax revenue in one of the region's high-growth areas.

State law requires the township to place the issue before voters, but officials from the two cities already approved the agreement.

Under the agreement, land would remain in the township, and the township would share in revenue from a 1.5 percent income tax in the joint economic development zone.

If the agreement is approved, about 30 businesses in the Briarfield business park in Monclova Township would be subject to the income tax.

The issue lost by three votes in the township last fall following an all-out campaign by opponents just ahead of Election Day.

“We want to try to avoid another ballot fight in November,” said Mr. Scilzo.

Opponents, including members of the Briarfield Owners Association, spoke out against the agreement during a two-hour public hearing in the township last week.

No meeting dates have been set with Maumee or Toledo, according to Mr. Scilzo, who said he wants to meet this week with members of the Briarfield association to get specific information about what changes they want.

After that, he will go to Toledo and Maumee to see whether the cities “can live with those” changes.

The Briarfield Owners Association is interested in setting up incentives, such as for job retention and creation, in the economic development zone, said Jerry Miller, group president.

Taxes remain the underlying issue, Mr. Miller said. Existing businesses should be exempt from paying the proposed tax.

Or, he said, if the existing businesses must pay the tax, there should be some added benefits. “We want to make sure if we pay the tax we see some services,” he said.

Mr. Miller remains optimistic that a comprise can be reached.

If there is no formal agreement by the August filing deadline for the November ballot, a letter of understanding signed by the three entities would suffice.

But if a compromise cannot be achieved before the election, there most likely would be a campaign of opposition, he said.

Sheilah McAdams, law director for Maumee, said there has been no discussion on the city's position.

Keith Trettin, chairman of the three-member Monclova Township board of trustees, said township officials are willing to work to see how the opponents' requests can be met.

“We do not want to destroy the agreement,” Mr. Trettin said. “This is the most important legislation the township has had in years, or may ever have, because it protects the township borders for 30 years; it is an economic development plan, and it is a cooperative agreement with the cities and the township. This has never been done before.”

Under the agreement, revenue from the joint-economic development zone could be used to help offset the township's increasing expenses for additional services in that area, such as for police and fire equipment, without having to ask voters for tax money, Mr. Trettin said.

He emphasized that the proposed agreement calls for a tax on people who work in the joint-economic development zone, and it would not be a township-wide tax on the residents. If that area grows, the Anthony Wayne schools could see an increase in tax revenue, he said.



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