If ordinance passes Joseph says he expects referendum on tax credit
Reynoldsburg City Council President Doug Joseph said he expects to see a referendum effort if council approves an ordinance reducing the city's income tax credit, thus raising taxes for most people who live in Reynoldsburg.
Council members Chris Long and Leslie Kelly are already on record opposing the tax credit change and Joseph said he himself would vote against it if he could.
"Four council votes will pass the ordinance and I only get a vote if there is a tie," he said.
"People I have talked to about this issue have indicated there would be some kind of group effort to initiate a ballot referendum if council passes the ordinance," Joseph said.
The ordinance, which is due for a second reading before the full council June 24, would reduce the city income tax credit by 50 percent, so about 80 percent of residents who live in Reynoldsburg but work elsewhere would pay a 0.75-percent income tax to Reynoldsburg on top of whatever they pay the city where they work.
Ben Piscitelli, from the Franklin County Board of Elections, and officials from the Fairfield and Licking County boards of election, said a referendum petition to put the income tax credit reduction on the ballot would require 1,306 valid signatures of registered voters.
That amount is 10 percent of the number of Reynoldsburg residents who voted in the last gubernatorial election in Franklin, Fairfield and Licking counties.
Piscitelli noted that any effort for a referendum would have to happen quickly in order for the issue to be on the November ballot.
"Assuming that Reynoldsburg City Council passes the ordinance, a referendum petition would have to be filed with the city clerk within 30 days of the ordinance being passed," he said.
"To get the issue on the fall ballot, the city clerk would have to transmit the petition and a certified copy of the ordinance to the board of elections after 10 days and not later than 90 days before the November election day."
He said the board of elections would then examine all the signatures for validity.
"For all of this to happen this year, the city would have to file the petition and ordinance by Aug. 7," he said. "This is assuming the ordinance passes. If Reynoldsburg should pass the ordinance too late for this election, then it could go into effect. A referendum petition may only be voted on during a November election."
Joseph said residents who oppose the ordinance have a few options, including coming to council meetings to speak against it and contacting Mayor Brad McCloud to ask him to veto the ordinance.
Council could override a mayoral veto on the ordinance, but that would take five votes, he said.
Council members have also discussed reducing the tax income credit through the ordinance and also putting a tax increase on the ballot, with the idea that the tax credit reduction could be rescinded if voters approve the tax increase.
Joseph said he thinks that would be dangerous because citizens could challenge the ordinance with a ballot referendum and could also vote against the tax increase, effectively "taking both tax issues out at the same time."