Rocky Fork Enterprise

Income-tax ballot measure

Gahanna council moves to secure credit increase

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The majority of Gahanna City Council approved a resolution of intent March 18 in support of a tax credit change.

Council member Ryan Jolley initiated the legislation, he said, because he wants voters to have a complete picture of what they're considering on the ballot.

"The intent is to put all information in front of voters with certainty," he said.

Gahanna voters face a proposed income-tax rate increase from 1.5 to 2.5 percent May 7. Concurrently, council would increase the tax credit from 83.3 to 100 percent. The proposed credit increase is not part of the ballot language.

Jolley, Brian Larick, Stephen Renner and Brandon Wright voted for the legislation, and Beryl Anderson and Karen Angelou dissented. Council member David Samuel was absent.

Before council approved Jolley's resolution of intent, Angelou asked that it be postponed indefinitely. Larick then recommended that it be amended to April 1.

"If it's postponed, that's one day before early voting," Jolley said. "I ask council to vote against postponing this evening."

Anderson said the resolution of intent could have been discussed in a council committee meeting. She said some residents believe the tax proposal is being rushed.

"The issue is if council will change the tax credit or not," Jolley said. "The time line dealing with this is not rushed. We've had three public hearings. We've had plenty of discussion."

Wright said the current tax credit is out of sync with other municipalities in Franklin County.

"It needs to be at a consistent level," he said. "There has been a plethora of information given. It's up to the citizens on what they want to do moving forward."

Jolley said council is locked in on the timing to vote on the tax credit legislation -- May 6 -- due to a 60-day requirement after the public hearing.

"I don't think this causes angst with people who are voting early," Anderson said. "A goal of council and the administration is to make a better effort to communicate."

Even with a plethora of information about the issue, she said, that doesn't necessarily mean residents are tuned in.

"People are asking whether council will pass the tax credit on May 6," Jolley said. "The intent of the legislation is to confirm council's intent for the change in the tax credit."

If voters approve the rate increase May 7, council will increase the tax credit from 83.3 to 100 percent.

Most of Gahanna's working residents are employed in a city that has a 2.5-percent income-tax rate for which Gahanna currently gives an 83.3-percent credit, for an effective tax rate of 2.75 percent. Under the proposed tax increase and full credit, those same residents' effective tax rate would be reduced to 2.5 percent.

The tax increase would become effective Jan. 1, 2014.

The new rate is expected to generate about $8 million annually, which is the same as the city's projected deficit.

City finance director Jennifer Teal has said the recommendation for a 2.5-percent rate with 100-percent credit would allocate the cost of city services fairly among users.

More about the ballot measure, as well as a calculator to figure how much the proposal would cost residents who work in the city and elsewhere, is online at gahanna.gov.

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