Xenia city and Central State University officials announced today they are joining forces in an effort to annex the campus into the city.
The two entities will petition the state to make the move, which is planned in three phases. The hope is the final push to get the 600-acre campus in Xenia Twp. into the city’s corporation limits would be complete by the middle of next year, according to Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman.
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“For years, the relationship between the city and Central State University has not been as progressive and rewarding as it could have been to establish this community as a major economic force,” Merriman said. “The partnership ... to collaborate on annexation not only fulfills cost-saving fiscal goals, but also further signals Xenia’s game-changing mentality and vision to further transform our community into an economically viable and sustainable region providing jobs, education, leadership, and enhanced quality-of-life and stability for years to come.”
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State law requires a city to be geographically connected to the land that is sought for annexation. Merriman said the city-owned bike trail connects with Central State property, and they are confident the move can be made within the parameters of the Ohio revised code.
CSU President Cynthia Jackson-Hammond said the university has a “long and interwoven history” with the city of Xenia, and the conclusion after discussions with “statewide stakeholders” and alumni is this is a good move for the school.
“We realize that if Central State University is to expand in visibility, economic growth and sustainability, we must forge a formal relationship with our closest municipality,” Jackson-Hammond said.
Annexing the campus into the city will help enable CSU to “remain the lowest tuition state university as the cost of college education rises,” said Mark Hatcher, chairman of the Central State University Board of Trustees.
“Gov. John Kasich has required Ohio’s universities to pursue efforts that lower overall costs in order to make college more affordable,” said Hatcher. “CSU’s financial benefits from this partnership are undeniable."
The city already provides water, sewer and certain emergency services to CSU under a contractual agreement, but as an entity within the municipality, the university could save on surcharges and benefit from additional city services, such as road maintenance and mutual aid police protection.
Central State has 350 employees and would become one of the city’s larger employers. About half of those workers would be impacted by the city’s income tax once the entire annexation was phased in, according to the university.