Reynoldsburg voters turned down the city’s request Nov. 5 for a 1-percentage-point increase in the city’s income tax, leaving the door open for city council to reconsider a proposal to cut the tax credit in half.
Issue 23 would have raised the city income tax from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.
According to unofficial results Nov. 5 from the Franklin County Board of Elections, Issue 23 failed by 2,882 votes, or 55 percent of the votes cast, against the issue to 2,358 votes, 45 percent, for the income tax.
Mayor Brad McCloud said the failure will have a “fundamental impact” on the city.
“The only way the city of Reynoldsburg can stay viable is if we have the same revenue that other cities our size have,” he said. “We operate on one-half of the revenue of comparable cities.”
McCloud said the city has made significant cuts and has lost millions in state revenue and estate taxes. He said more revenue is needed to pay for police officers, road repairs and other safety issues.
The income-tax hike would have generated about $5 million annually, according to City Auditor Richard Harris.
McCloud said the city currently has 54 police officers when a city Reynoldsburg’s size should have about 63 police officers. He said the failure of the income-tax hike might mean the city will have to “revisit the tax credit.”
“My guess is that city council will revisit the tax-credit reduction, because we must have more tax revenue to stay viable,” he said.
McCloud had exercised his veto power for the first time July 25 to nix an ordinance that would have reduced the city income-tax credit by 50 percent.
The tax-credit reduction would have raised taxes for 80 percent of employed residents, without voter approval. It would have required those residents to pay a 0.75-percent income tax to Reynoldsburg on top of whatever they pay the city where they work.
At the time, McCloud said, he thought it was unfair to voters to lower the tax credit when an income-tax issue was on the ballot. He said voters should decide on a tax increase.
Council President Doug Joseph said Tuesday he was not surprised that voters turned down Issue 23.
“The citizens of Reynoldsburg turned down three previous attempts to raise their taxes and now have voted against a fourth attempt to increase income taxes,” he said.
“I think they want the city to look at other things besides higher taxes. We need to look into more shared services and consolidating services.
“If we still need money down the road, then maybe voters would agree on a small increase in the income tax and not a full 1 percent,” he said.
Joseph said if council members do reconsider the tax-credit reduction, it would be like “sticking a finger in the eyes of voters.”
“If they vote on a tax-credit reduction right after voters said no on higher taxes, it is asking for real problems,” he said.
“The idea that raising taxes is the only way to fund this city is ridiculous. Voters want to see the city work within the current framework.”