Charmaine Gurule is a Software Engineer at Symmetry Software. For over a year, she's collected information regarding JEDDs in Ohio to help enhance Symmetry Software's products.
What is a JEDD?
A JEDD is a Joint Economic Development District, and can only be found in Ohio. JEDDs come with a unique tax, similar to a city or local tax. A city and township negotiate it and create a formal JEDD contract. The contract covers issues that include
which entity provides safety, zoning, and how the JEDD income tax is split.
Did you know what a JEDD was before Symmetry Software?
No, I did not – but now I do, and I have all the files on my computer.
How did you originally start working on creating the JEDD files?
In January 2016, our Tax Research Analyst Maria Pickens asked if it was possible to know if the shapefiles we create for the Symmetry Tax Engine (STE) could show the JEDDs, because at that point the only local taxes we were showing in our products were city and county.
After that, I went to my boss – Development Manager Steve Meixner – and asked if it would be helpful to have JEDD files created and implemented into the shapefiles that lie within the STE and Payroll Point. In his office, he had old copies of contracts that townships, cities, and municipalities create in order to have a JEDD made. I didn’t even finish my sentence before he was handing me the copies.
Had Symmetry Software worked on finding and creating JEDD files before?
Our Office Administrator Raychel Stein tried to gather all the contracts maybe six or seven years ago, but ran into trouble getting them from various local government – especially in the more rural areas of Ohio, where information was not gathered or stored.
What was your process of gathering the correct information?
The first thing I did was start hunting down the contracts. This sort of jaded me, because the first were easy to find, as they were online. These were of the larger cities and larger contracts. Something I learned is that some cities definitely have more sophisticated websites than others. After that I thought, 'Contact the county commissioners, and ask them for the JEDDs.' This ended up being another dead end – the county is not fully involved with the creation of JEDDs or managing contracts. The responsibility does not fall under them.
Next I figured I would try the Director of Economic Development of Ohio, thinking this office would be the perfect place as this is where economic development is happening. But alas, they did not have the contracts nor the time. I spoke to one lawyer who personally told me he did not have the time to collect the information for the over 90 JEDDS.
Then I just buckled down, went back to the drawing board and started contacting anyone and everyone – cities, townships, villages. I got passed around a lot among people working in these local government offices. Some did not have the contracts – only a parcel number. With that though, I was able to look up the parcel number on my own and cross reference on Google maps, MyMaps, and Bing.
What were some of the challenges of this (ongoing) project?
Lack of awareness in Ohio about JEDDs was definitely a challenge. When I would call offices, many had not heard of them. Some contracts come in different formats. Some lacked clarity and were difficult to read – especially the parts of the contracts with maps. Some maps were PAINFUL to read.
How do you draw/create the JEDD files?
After cross-referencing with the contracts and online map services, I use a special software program to virtually draw the JEDD files.
What did you learn and take away?
Well, after spending all year in Ohio virtually, I learned a lot. I had no idea it would be that important or make this much of a difference to people working in payroll. I also learned a lot about how I work – and a great deal about the OGIS software. I know SO much about Ohio, too, and that it’s easy for people to scoff at what some governments do but for businesses, jobs, and life in Ohio, JEDDs help.