Following successful recent efforts by Columbus and Worthington to raise their city income tax to 2.5 percent, Delaware hopes to boost its city income tax by 0.3 percent, from 1.55 percent to 1.85 percent.

Following successful recent efforts by Columbus and Worthington to raise their city income tax to 2.5 percent, Delaware hopes to boost its city income tax by 0.3 percent, from 1.55 percent to 1.85 percent.

The tax would be dedicated to fire and emergency medical services, raising a current 0.4-percent rate to 0.7 percent, increasing annual fire service revenues from $4-million to $7-million.

Two other options examined Tuesday by the city council finance committee included keeping the tax as is and boosting it by 0.25 percent.

Council is expected to examine the issue June 28 and would have to approve the measure by early August in order to have it placed on the November ballot.

Finance committee members Joe DiGenova, Jim Moore and Andrew Brush agreed the difference between 0.25 and 0.3 was unlikely to change the likelihood of voter approval. Finance director Dean Stelzer said that of the two choices, the higher rate would raise an additional $500,000 annually under current employer and resident payrolls. The total amount raised by the increase would be about $3-million.

Brush seconded the recommendation and voted to recommend the 0.3 percent increase, but said he was not committed to supporting it on the ballot.

"Given the campaign pledge when I ran for council two and a half years ago and given recent discussions I've had, it probably comes as no surprise I'm in a position where I can't necessarily support placing this on the ballot," Brush said. "I do support taking the 0.3 percent increase to council for further discussion. But I want to make clear that my seconding this motion and my favorable vote this evening does not necessarily guarantee my support of this tax when it comes before council during the next couple of meetings."

Most finance committee discussion dealt with desired changes in fire service, plus coverage areas, potential new fire stations and additional staffers.

Committee members said general fund revenues currently going toward fire protection could be directed to police services if the tax increase is approved.

Committee chair DiGenova asked if committee members want to include a formal recommendation that council increase funding to police.

"Do you want to include a paragraph in there for police and payroll?" DiGenova said.

"We didn't talk about the police in the proposal, but roughly $500,000 is coming from the general revenue fund for the firefighters, that would go to the police if the 0.30 passes," council member Jim Moore said.

"Would that be earmarked?" DiGenova said.

"No," said Stelzer. "We would identify (it) in the body of the ordinance ... council would have to commit to that, obviously, as part of the 2011 budget, provided the levy passes."

Gahanna, Marysville and Reynoldsburg each have a 1.5-percent tax rate, while several outlying regional cities such as Lancaster and Marion are at 1.75 percent. Many Columbus suburbs are 2 percent. Projections prepared by Delaware city reflected that a city resident earning $50,000 annually and owning a $150,000 home pays a total of $916 in property and income tax a year. This would increase by $150 annually to $1,066 if the income tax increase is approved.

The bulk of Tuesday's presentation at the finance committee was made by Stelzer, who discussed revenue and expenditures for fire service. Fire chief John Donahue discussed response times, coverage areas, mutual aid agreements with neighboring jurisdictions, and the effect of insurance company community ratings on homeowner insurance policy costs.

The current annual fire department budget is about $5-million. In 2010, $670,000 of that amount was paid from the general fund. The general fund added $375,000 in 2009 and $99,000 in 2008.

Of the current 1.55 percent income tax, 0.4 percent is dedicated to fire and EMS, 0.15 percent to parks and recreation, and the remaining 1 percent to general budget.