Falls, Braceville pencil a JEDD

NEWTON FALLS – The village and Braceville are sifting out the details of a joint economic district along state Route 5 that has been nearly a year and a half in the making.

“I think the next step is a face-to-face discussion by the elected officials on both sides,” Village Manager Jack Haney said.

The district would allow businesses along the highway to use village utilities at the lower inner-village rate, while taxes collected would be split between the two entities.

While the contract is still missing some major components, both sides are looking to benefit from its finalization.

“The village can generate more money through sewer and water,” said Braceville Trustee Tod Brewster said, while township would see an increase in property tax through the filling of vacant land.

Income tax would also be split between the two, thus adding a completely new stream of revenue for Braceville since the township can’t enforce an income tax. The JEDD, in its current form, calls for levying an income tax of 1 percent gradually over a five-year period.

The latest draft of the contract, edited by village officials and sent to Braceville for review, has the township receiving 60 percent of the income tax and the village receiving 40 percent, though the township originally proposed a 75-25 split.

Haney said the main area that the JEDD would encompass runs along state Route 5 from the village East to Carter Woodcraft Center.

“The county has looked at it as a gateway – there’s something to be said to have that developed in a correct manner,” Haney said.

The exact borders have yet to be defined but the area has optimum conditions for luring in businesses.

“First a JEDD really needs access, so (Interstate) 80 is there. Number two would be water, and it has that. Three would be sewer, and with the hotels, there some already have it,” Brewster said.

The township would be responsible for fire, police and road maintenance.

Brewster said though both entities would reap benefits from new business growth, he hopes that the existing businesses in the district will come out even farther ahead.

Being a business owner himself in another county, he said when a JEDD was formed around his business, he ended up with the short end of the stick. While paying less for utilities, he and employees were required to pay more in income tax.

Once the contract has been sorted out, it will need the approval of the majority of businesses in the area and a board will be put in place to oversee its operations.

“The wheels of government move slow for some reason. It could be as early as three, four, six months…,” Brewster said. “It will be nice to get something out there instead of nothing.”