2013 city challenges
Financial moves could include income tax request
The city of Reynoldsburg will start the new year with a new face on City Council and the need to discuss a possible income tax increase.
Monica DeBrock will be sworn in as council's newest member at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7, before the start of the regular meeting at 7 p.m., at Reynoldsburg City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.
Council President Doug Joseph said DeBrock's appointment was unanimously approved Dec. 11. She will serve out Nathan Burd's remaining term as an at-large member, because Burd recently accepted an appointment as city service director.
Joseph said Reynoldsburg will continue to face financial challenges in 2013.
"The most important challenges the city will face in 2013 continue to be around the funding of critical city services," he said. "Right now, it looks like income tax collections are strong enough to fund current expenses, but decisions will need to be made regarding filling vacant positions within the city, expanding the city's annual street program, pay raises for current employees and how to pay for these items."
He said financial discussions may center on whether to ask residents for an income tax increase.
"Debate will continue on whether the city should pursue an income tax increase, enact a reduction in the income tax credit or look to maintain current expenses with existing revenue," he said.
Joseph's "wish list" for Reynoldsburg includes possible collaboration with surrounding cities.
"I would like the city to do more in the way of partnering with other communities and overlapping jurisdictions on the providing of local government services," he said. "I would also like to see a more aggressive effort in 2013 to lure new employers to Reynoldsburg. This would help generate additional tax dollars that would, in turn, help fill possible budget shortfalls down the road.
"To do this, we will need to fully staff the city's development department or look to outsourcing its duties to a qualified vendor with extensive experience in this area," he said.
Councilman Barth Cotner agreed that the city's service needs will drive those financial discussions.
"There are many needs, from our water and sewer lines to our streets program, to vacant positions that can't be filled due to limited resources," he said. "Our city will continue to move forward, so we need to diligently work to guide the direction, despite our challenges."
Cotner's "wish list" extends through 2013 and beyond.
"I have long wanted and continue to want a YMCA facility or community center ... to add to the quality of life in our community," he said. "I would love to have more business activity come to Reynoldsburg. We need to work to develop our community to attract companies to come here. We have limitations, but there are still options open and available for businesses."
He said the former Big Bear/Valu King property on Livingston Avenue should attract some businesses.
"There has not been much effort to fill this property, but the city hasn't seen anything sustainable for a long time," he said. "There is a lot of space to utilize at Brice and Livingston and I'd love to have a developer invest into that area."
Ward 1 representative Scott Barrett said 2013 will be the year council must decide whether to raise taxes or continue to cut staff, programs and services.
"2013 will be the year this gets addressed," he said. "It will be business as usual, which is doing nothing, or deciding to make an investment into our future."