NILES Accord on JEDD causes concerns
It would be the first such agreement in the county.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
NILES -- Some council members have concerns about tax-sharing and the language in a Joint Economic Development District agreement between the city and Howland.
Council had a public hearing on the proposed agreement Wednesday. No decisions were made, and another hearing is set before township trustees next week.
"I'm recommending we go with it," said Mayor Ralph A. Infante Jr., adding that it's the next best thing if a developer doesn't want to annex.
In beginning: The idea for the JEDD started in late 1999 at state Route 46 and Mall Boulevard, which includes a Perkins Restaurant, Holiday Inn Express and two undeveloped lots. Both businesses are operated by Sanray Corp., which is owned by Ray Travaglini.
If it's approved, it would be the first JEDD in Trumbull County.
Under the agreement, the township maintains property tax on the area as well as continuing to provide police and fire protection. The city would get the income tax and the businesses would be billed at the inside-city rate for electricity.
Inside rates are about 17 percent less than customers outside the city.
Since late 2000, the businesses have been receiving the inside electric rates and the businesses and their employees also have been paying city income tax.
Tax determination: J. Terrence Dull, law director, said the service director sets utility rates, but the collection of income tax must be determined by the JEDD board if the agreement is approved.
Some council members pointed to a section of the draft that says the city agrees not to annex Howland land as long as the agreement is in effect unless the township agrees. The contract is for 50 years.
Councilman Stephen G. Papalas, D-at large, said he's uncomfortable giving up the opportunity for annexation. He said the benefits to Howland outweigh those to the city.
John Emanuel, Howland administrator, said JEDDs are a way to avoid annexation battles. Alfred E. Schrader, the Akron attorney retained to draft the agreement, said annexation causes fights when communities should be working together.
"Everyone just spends a lot of money on lawyers," Schrader said.
Emanuel disagreed that Howland would reap more benefits than Niles. He said the property owner doesn't want to annex.
Councilman Robert Marino, D-at large, pointed out that some of the people who work at the businesses live in the city and would pay the city income tax regardless of an agreement.
He views annexation as a positive thing for the city.
"If you want to enjoy the benefits of Niles, you become part of Niles," Marino said.
Even split: Papalas also said he'd like to see a 50-50 split between the two communities for all of the taxes. Howland would get half the income tax and Niles schools would get half of the school taxes from the area, he suggested.
"I'd like to see our community gain a little bit more, especially our school system," Papalas said.
Emanuel said he believes that school taxes are determined by the state Legislature, but Schrader said they would look into the tax split possibility.