TALLMADGE — With annexation, there is a winner and a loser, says Mayor David G. Kline.
Not so with a Joint Economic Development District, like the arrangement Tallmadge has with Brimfield Township, Kline reports, adding the commercial development set to rise on the site of the former Maplecrest Golf Course will be a boon to both far into the future.
"There certainly will be an increase in income tax revenues as a result of the Maplecrest commercial development including Meijer’s, Menard’s and the out-buildings," Tallmadge Planning Director / Economic Developer Rita Weinberg says, adding, "There also will be industrial development in the rear acreage that will result in significantly more revenue when those lots are developed."
Brimfield is in the midst of a development boom, both commercially and residentially. The situation is far removed from the scenario 25 years ago, when the community of 10,000-plus was on the verge of being swallowed up by Tallmadge and Kent, says Brimfield Trustee Mike Kostensky.
A funding mechanism called JEDDs have made all the difference, he says. "Without them, we’d be broke," Kostensky reports. Fellow trustee Sue Fields echoed that sentiment recently, saying, "We’d just be a little bump in the road."
Townships, by nature, were designated as land in reserve for cities to annex as they grow, says Brimfield Fiscal Officer John Dalziel. But after Tallmadge annexed 255 acres from the township in 1996, Brimfield was anxious to stop the takeover trend which was carving up the community "cookie cutter-style," he says. At the same time, city officials were realizing annexation wasn’t the perfect way to grow, Dalziel explains, because acquiring land for the commercial and industrial revenue it promised usually involved acquiring residential property that required resources as well.
Creation of a joint economic development district or JEDD in 2003 has soothed the once contentious relationship between Tallmadge and Brimfield into one of cooperation, officials from both entities say. "It’s a win-win for both," according to Kline. Each benefits economically through the arrangement which permits the pair to develop a business zone and share revenue. Under the Ohio Revised Code, a township does not have the authority to collect income tax, says Tallmadge Finance Director Mollie Gilbride; townships may collect property taxes only. However, the JEDD allows Brimfield to collect property tax, a portion of income tax and secure development opportunities. Tallmadge benefits by receiving a portion of the income tax without the annexation hassle.
Approximately two-thirds of the township — areas south of interstate 76 and the area north of 76, west of Mogadore Road and south of Howe Road — are included in the Brimfield-Tallmadge JEDD. Brimfield has a similar JEDD pact with Kent covering its remaining land; however, Dalziel says "there’s not much development that’s gone on there" compared to its Tallmadge counterpart.
The Brimfield-Tallmadge JEDD generated approximately $1.3 million in income tax revenue in 2017, according to Gilbride. Those funds are split equally between Tallmadge and Brimfield, she says, with 10 percent set aside for improvements and maintenance within the JEDD itself.
In Tallmadge, the JEDD monies go into the General Fund like city income tax does. Gilbride says the JEDD revenue is used in the same manner as the city income tax dollars and the use of those funds is considered annually as part of the budgeting process. "We don't specifically earmark the JEDD money for anything," Gilbride says."It goes into our General Fund and becomes the revenue we use to operate the city."
The JEDD is one of the reasons Tallmadge in "great financial condition," the mayor says, with the ending balance for the general fund anticipated to be $5,432,226 this year. The additional income tax money from the JEDD has allowed the city to stretch its General Fund money to permit more infrastructure improvements, officials say.
The real benefit from the Brimfield/Tallmadge JEDD is that the development has elicited strong job creation. To date, hundreds of jobs have been added to the businesses in the designation. These businesses range from large companies to small enterprises.
Kline says he doesn’t anticipate any adverse effect from the development on city services. "Maybe more traffic coming in to Tallmadge," he says, "but we’ll deal with that." To date, the city has been unsuccessful in securing funding through the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study to widen a 1.2-mile stretch of East Avenue from the Tallmadge Recreation Center to the Brimfield line.
Gilbride’s department is the collection agent for the income tax monies generated by the JEDD; Brimfield doesn’t have its own income tax department.
This is the last year the JEDD will collect income tax at a rate of 1.25 percent of gross income tax, according to Gilbride. That rate will increase to 1.5 percent for 2019 through 2021 and then up to 1.75 percent through 2024. The rate caps at 2 percent thereafter, which is the city of Tallmadge’s current income tax rate.
Building on its successful economic partnership with Brimfield, Tallmadge officials have also explored the possibility of a JEDD with Rootstown Township. Nothing has developed from those discussions to date but Tallmadge officials say such a partnership would benefit both entities economically if it came to fruition.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, email@example.com or @EllinWalsh_RPC.