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Sylvania township, city take step to cooperation

Municipalities eye joint economic districts to share tax revenue is goal

Sylvania Township trustees want to have an open dialogue with their counterparts in the city of Sylvania, particularly regarding annexations and possibly over forming joint economic districts so the two municipalities can share tax revenue.

Township trustees on Tuesday took the first step by approving an agreement that states they’ll meet with city officials at least three times a year to collaborate on economic-development projects. Trustees John Crandall and Neal Mahoney voted in favor of the agreement, while John Jennewine voted against it.

Sylvania Township does not have an income tax, which means residents who work in the township but live outside of Sylvania pay those taxes in their home communities. A joint economic-development district would allow for an income tax to be collected in that area, which the city and the township then would split by a formula yet to be determined.

No specific properties have been identified for such a district, and Sylvania’s city council members still must approve the agreement.

Sylvania Township Fiscal Officer David Simko said in the past annexations of township property into the city limits have been contentious, and he hopes the new agreement would keep all parties on the same page when it comes to land changing hands.

“Both the city and us are trying to avoid those clashes that can develop, and this is a mechanism to do it,” Mr. Simko said. “It’s basically an agreement to agree. It doesn’t bind the city or the township. It’s a good way for us to keep in touch on these specific issues.”

Mr. Jennewine voiced concerns about entering into an agreement with the city before the township’s new land-use plan is complete. He said he has heard from business-owners who are nervous about annexation, and he would like to gather more community input before taking a vote.

“People move here because we don’t charge an income tax, and if that changes because every property out there is going to then fall under a JEDD, I’m just wondering how that’s going to shift people’s focus on Sylvania Township,” Mr. Jennewine said.

Mr. Crandall and Mr. Mahoney countered and said a “yes” vote doesn’t obligate the township to do anything other than meet with city officials. Township trustees and residents in the past have been caught off-guard by city annexations, and regular meetings would keep them in the know, they argued.

“This calls for three meetings a year with the city to see if there are opportunities when they’re annexing and maybe work out revenue sharing,” Mr. Crandall said. 

“To me, it’s the first step.”

Sylvania councilman Doug Haynam said he expects city council will vote on the agreement soon now that township trustees have approved it.

Contact Sarah Elms at: selms@theblade.com or 419-724-6103 or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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