In a 6 to 1 vote, Powell City Council on July 20 voted to put an income tax increase on the November ballot.

In a 6 to 1 vote, Powell City Council on July 20 voted to put an income tax increase on the November ballot.

Council member Sara Marie Brenner was the lone dissenting vote. (See related story on page A1.)

Council followed the city finance committee's recommendation for the tax hike after a five-year study on capital improvement needs and how to pay for them. City officials noted in 2007 that falling revenue from development would require a new source of money for capital improvements.

Projects that would be funded by the additional tax include road maintenance and construction, sewers, bicycle paths and park maintenance, officials have said.

If approved by voters, the city's income tax would change from its current 0.75 percent, with a credit as high as 0.50, to 1.5 percent with a credit as high as 1 percent.

The credit is given to Powell residents who work in other cities and pay income tax there.

Officials have said that 62 percent of the residents, those who work in municipalities other than Powell, would not see an income tax increase.

The six council members who approved the ballot issue told ThisWeek they personally would not see a tax increase.

They also said the total municipal tax that they pay is greater than that paid by the 38 percent of Powell residents who would see an income tax increase.

Brenner, who owns a business in Powell, said she would have to pay the tax increase, which she viewed as a "tax on small business." She also said it's unfair for a minority of Powell residents to fund capital improvements that all residents would use.

Resident Chris Johnson agreed with Brenner, saying, "I work outside the city so as the tax is formulated it wouldn't affect me personally. But I generally oppose the idea that a tax would be designed in such a way that a smaller fraction of the voting public would be responsible for paying for capital improvements that are for the general welfare of the entire town."

Council member Richard Cline said it's fair because 62 percent of the residents already pay more in municipal taxes to other cities. He said he works in Columbus and pays 2.5 percent income tax, plus the half percent that he pays to Powell after the credit.

Brenner said she would prefer that residents be given the opportunity to vote on specific capital improvement needs, instead of a blanket amount for all capital improvements.

That could be accomplished, she has said, with a property tax levy for each of the types of projects, such as bicycle trails.

Mayor Art Schultz said that property tax issues are hard to pass even if residents want the improvement the tax would fund. He said often it can take three times on the ballot to pass a levy.

Council member Brian Lorenz said the deciding factor for him is that 50 percent of the estimated $2.2-million generated by the increase would be paid by people who work in Powell but live elsewhere, as outlined in a finance committee report.

Council also approved two "companion" ordinances. Those passed 6 to 1, Brenner dissenting on both. She said it made sense to do so, not because she was against them on principle, but because she opposed the issue to which they relate.

One ordinance dedicates the revenue from the income tax increase to capital improvements for 10 years. The ordinance can be repealed only if six council members vote to do so.

Resident Bill Orosz viewed the proposed increase as an "unrestricted general fund increase" because the increase continues past the sunset date of the ordinance that restricts the funds.

He and a number of other residents said the current economic climate is not the time to be asking already financially pressed residents for more.

Another companion ordinance would increase the income tax credit to 1 percent for residents who pay income tax to other cities.

Residents can review details of the proposed income tax increase online in the "Powell Capital Improvements Plan and Funding Recommendation of Finance Committee" document at www. cityofpowell.us under the "Hot Topics" section of the home page.