By Denise Dick
The plan stemmed from Youngstown’s proposal for a Joint Economic Development District.
BOARDMAN — Over the next several weeks, residents may be getting knocks at their doors from fellow residents interested in the township’s becoming a city.
John Howley, a township resident, said that he and a handful of others plan to collect the signatures — at least 2,500 — on petitions from township residents who are registered voters by going door-to-door.
The petitions say that the signers want township trustees to begin the process of becoming a city. The petitions will be presented to trustees, he said.
“I think that all of the trustees, if they see the signatures and know that people are really interested in this, they’ll do the right thing,” Howley said.
Trustee Kathy Miller said she believes incorporation is something that must be pursued.
“I think we should have started working on this already,” she said.
Becoming a city would make Boardman eligible for state and federal grants not available to townships, Miller said.
Howley said his group is in the early stages of organizing, and it’s born out of Youngstown’s proposal for a Joint Economic Development District with the township.
The city’s proposal calls for the city to charge a 2 percent income tax on those who work in the portions of Boardman and Austintown that receive Youngstown water. That’s about half of Boardman and almost all of Austintown.
The townships could place their own 0.25-percent income tax on those same people.
In exchange, the city would reduce its income tax from 2.75 percent to 2.25 percent, a move that would put more money in the pockets of those who work in the city, including those living in the two townships.
Also, Youngstown would reduce the surcharge on its water customers in the two townships from 40 percent to 20 percent.
Although Mayor Jay Williams has said that annexation of the two townships is not his goal, that remains a fear of some.
“In no way do we want to be annexed to Youngstown, and we don’t want to be part of a JEDD,” Howley said.
If township residents are going to pay an income tax — a result of annexation or a JEDD — Howley believes it would be preferable for that money to go to Boardman as a new city.
“The city isn’t coming back, I don’t believe, and they’re trying to bring in money on the backs of the residents of Austintown and Boardman,” Howley said.
He acknowledged the additional expenses of more road maintenance and additional elected representatives associated with incorporation but said he doesn’t believe those costs would be prohibitive.
“People say that we’d have to pay a mayor, but we’d be paying a mayor anyway” if annexation or a JEDD becomes a reality, Howley said.
Last October, trustees received a proposal to study the steps required for incorporation.
The proposal was prepared by Kent State University’s Center for Public Administration and Public Policy at township Administrator Jason Loree’s request. KSU had said it would charge $19,410 for the study.
Trustees took no action on the proposal.