At a public hearing Wednesday night, Troy Township residents expressed their concerns about Troy Township potentially partnering with the City of Toledo to form a 460-acre JEDD near State Route 420 and U.S. 20.
About 25 Troy Township residents arrived to get answers from township trustees and representatives from the Northwest Water and Sewer District.
Those who were vocal at the hall were mostly concerned about the township sharing income tax and doing business with Toledo to get water to the site.
Gary P. Kowalksi, who said he was a former Perrysburg resident who moved to the township about three years ago, warned that if “we do get water and the City of Toledo is involved, be prepared to pay dearly.”
Under the agreement, Toledo will provide sewer and water service to the site and share income tax revenues with the township from businesses that locate in the JEDD. The township will provide road maintenance and fire protection service.
The NWSD will extend water and sewer lines to the site, Jerry Greiner, district director, told The Press. He said the lines will also be able to serve another 540 or so acres to the south of the JEDD. The JEDD site and southern acreage are owned by Dominion East Ohio.
Financing for the lines, which are estimated to cost about $7 million, is already in place, Greiner said. The district is earmarking $2 million and has secured a grant of about $2.35 million from the Ohio Department of Development and Dominion East has also earmarked $2.35 million.
The city’s income tax rate of 2.25 percent will be levied on employees of businesses in the JEDD, with Toledo to receive 40 percent of revenue and the township to receive 60 percent. The agreement also includes a “make whole” provision which gives Toledo all of the income tax revenue collected from any business that relocates from Toledo to the JEDD.
Toledo will collect the taxes and disperse Troy Township’s share, charging a fee for the service, said attorneys for the Northwest Water and Sewer District.
NWSD attorney Linda Holmes, who helped negotiate the agreement, said Toledo originally requested a 50-50 split of income tax revenue and the city also wanted 50 percent of enhanced real property taxes on the site, which the city took off the table.
“Doing a JEDD allows the township to bring water into an area where it is expensive to bring it. For a 460-acre parcel, it is a big deal for development purposes, and it’s probably going to attract something significant,” Holmes added. “There are a lot of companies that want to come here and they want to move, but you have to have the infrastructure in place.”
Many at the meeting questioned why the township contracted with Toledo for water instead of with Bowling Green, Oregon, or Ottawa County.
NWSD project manager John Sopko said Bowling Green could not provide a “sufficient quantity” of water to serve the sight, and attorneys for the district said any negotiations with Oregon or Ottawa County are exploratory only.
“That’s like a 25 to 50 year plan,” NWSD attorney Rex Huffman said. “We’re looking at ways to maximize the water plan over a period of time. All these things we’re exploring now are a 25 to 50 year plan, so we have other suppliers now but we’re looking for ways to maximize those services long term.”
“Just think about it,” Kowalski said. “I don’t know the details anyone else knows about it, but it seems to me like there is not a whole lot of benefit to Troy Township if we cannot levy taxes. It just seems we’re serving up a platter for Dominion and the City of Toledo. It seems to me the real winner is the landowner and the City of Toledo and it seems like we’re just being used here.”
Holmes said, “That was the argument I made to Toledo is you get all the money and you have no responsibility. Here’s the problem — Toledo has the resource and we can’t get that anywhere else, so they have you over a barrel.”
Another resident, Glenn McCoy, said “I’d say the real winner here is Dominion Energy and Gas. Let them get their own water. What’s that 480 acres worth today in industrial property? It’s worth more than $1,000 per acre, so let them pay for it.”
Trustee Robert Emans noted that Dominion is paying for a third of the construction costs. NWSD project manager John Sopko added that this project ties into sewer lines that will be constructed along Route 20 through Stony Ridge, and this project will ease the cost for those who tap into those lines as well.
Kowalski went so far as to question why the township was even getting into the business of industrial economic development.
“I’ve heard a couple times that if we want industrial development in that corner of the township we have to have water from Toledo and they have us over a barrel. I just throw out this question, because it’s kind of the gateway to our community, ‘Do we really want industrial development there?’ I don’t really lose any sleep over how we’re going to get water out of that corner of the township.”