BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The future employees of a Community Entertainment District planned for Boardman’s Southern Park Mall may be asked to pay an income tax to help pay for some of the $30 million in redevelopment work that’s being proposed.
The income tax would be run through a partnering community. Along with Boardman Township and the mall, that community would also benefit from the tax.
Youngstown, Struthers, Campbell and Girard are among the communities being considered as a potential partner.
A news release from Southern Park owner Washington Prime Group says they’re looking for “support from local government partners to offset costs associated with non-revenue-generating investments.”
Boardman Township Administrator Jason Loree explained in further detail Friday what Washington Prime Group, the owner of Southern Park Mall, described in a news release Thursday as imposing “for a limited time, new taxes on the Southern Park Mall site, which, once collected, will be shared with the company.”
“That would be the concept of the JEDD,” Loree said.
JEDD stands for Joint Economic Development District, one of which is being planned for the new development at the mall.
State law does not allow townships to collect income taxes but it does allow townships to partner with cities through a JEDD.
Loree has taken the lead in putting the JEDD together, though much of the legal work is being done by lawyers in Columbus.
The income tax, said Loree, would be imposed only on employees in the new businesses in the Community Entertainment District. Employees working at existing stores in the mall would not pay the income tax.
Loree said the partnering community has to already have an income tax of at least 2%. That’s why Poland and Canfield aren’t in consideration.
“Poland and Canfield both have 1% income taxes,” Loree said. “The people at Washington Prime don’t think that’ll generate enough money.”
Loree said negotiations on creating a JEDD will begin after the first of the year.
“We contacted one city and was told to wait until after the election because they didn’t know who was going to be in charge.”
The negotiations will include how the income tax will be divided.
“Washington Prime will have a certain amount in mind that it needs to recoup its investment,” Loree said.
He does not know the amount Washington Prime will need.
Boardman Township also wants a percentage of the income tax revenue generated and a percentage will also go to the partnering community.
“All that has to be negotiated,” Loree said.
Washington Prime’s plans for the Community Entertainment District include bars and restaurants, indoor golf, ice skating, a green space and sports fields.
A Struthers official confirmed they were approached about being part of the JEDD and that they’re looking into the possibility.
Youngstown City Councilwoman Lauren McNally, chairperson of the finance committee, knew nothing about the idea but said, “We would certainly be willing to listen to what they have to say.”
Campbell Mayor Nick Phillips was also unaware of the plan for a JEDD but he, too, would be willing to listen.
“We’d like to hear what they have to say,” Phillips said.
Girard Mayor Jim Melifi said he was approached about a year ago about possibly forming a JEDD with Boardman but hasn’t heard anything since.
“But if they want to talk, I’ll be there.”