By Dustin Ensinger
The relationship between Berkshire Township officials and Village of Sunbury officials is “strained” as the two sides seek to reach a revenue-sharing agreement that could stave off large-scale annexations, according to Delaware County Administrator Tim Hansley.
The two sides met on Sunday – with county officials facilitating the discussion – but reached no agreement.
“The thing that is straining it, frankly, is the annexations,” Hansley said.
The village is set to consider two annexation requests in the coming months. Both requests total 312 acres, and could be the first of several annexations to make way for the proposed NorthGate Centre Development.
Township officials have said they would like to strike a deal with the village to stave off the annexations. Their bargaining chip is a Tanger outlet mall proposed to be built just off the Interstate 71-U.S. 36-Ohio 37 interchange in Berkshire Township and the revenue that would be generated by the development.
The creation of a Join Economic Development District (JEDD) and a Community Authority could maximize revenue to be share with the village, township officials have said.
However, one potential JEDD partner, the City of Westerville, has decided not to pair with the township.
“There wasn’t enough revenue in it for them to be concerned with it,” said Hansley, adding that the partnership would generate about $50,000 annually for the city.
The City of Delaware has been brought into the discussion as a possible JEDD partner with Berkshire Township.
Delaware County Commissioner Dennis Stapleton said he would like to see the village and the township partner on the JEDD.
“I would hate to see for a few dollars a community not partner with a village that is so close to it,” he said.
But Hansley said the township is looking to maximize revenue by partnering with a municipality with an income tax higher than 1-percent, Sunbury’s rate. Under Ohio law, townships cannot levy an income tax unless it is through an economic development partnership with a municipality.
Hansley said time is running out to break ground on the Tanger outlet mall in 2014.
“The clock is ticking,” he said. “The threat is already there that they could find a site more ready than this site is.”
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.