Reynoldsburg's need for more money was discussed at a City Council meeting Monday night, with some council members clashing with the city auditor about whose job it is to relay the message to the public.
Council is considering asking voters in November to hike the city's income tax to 2.5 percent, from 1.5 percent, to ward off declines in city services, including property-maintenance enforcement, road repairs, police protection and parks and recreation.
Councilman Barth Cotner, a member of council's finance committee, said the income-tax increase plan will be introduced at council's July 8 meeting.
It has been more than 30 years since the city raised its income tax.
Voters have three times voted down increase requests in Reynoldsburg, prompting council to also consider lowering the city's income-tax credit by half, which effectively would raise taxes for the 80 percent of residents who live in the city but work elsewhere.
Councilman Chris Long wanted to know how the $5 million raised annually from the tax increase discussed last night would be spent.
"It wasn't effectively explained and there was no detail," Long said. "We need to give an accounting for the citizens of Reynoldsburg. I mean details. What are we going to spend it on?"
"That, Mr. Long, is your job," responded City Auditor Richard Harris. "I do not make policy."
Long interrupted Harris: "It is not my job to sit up here and sell something to the public."
Harris countered: "Council is responsible for the appropriations for raising taxes and making expenditures."
If council decides to proceed with an income tax increase request and voters don't approve it Nov. 5, city officials could fall back on cutting the income-tax credit in half, a last resort, said Councilman Mel Clemens, who has supported this option.
"I think we all understand the problem," said Clemens. "But we can't get it across to the public."
Residents who work outside the city currently get a full credit, paying none of Reynoldsburg's 1.5 percent income tax. If council opts to cut the tax credit, those workers would pay 0.75 percent to Reynoldsburg on top of what they pay to the municipality where they work.
Harris said lowering the tax credit would bring in more than $3 million annually.
But council tabled that idea for at least two weeks.
Resident Carrie Acosta urged officials to better explain why Reynoldsburg needs the funds.
"We have to have it or else dire things are going to happen," she told council.
She wants the city to post its master plan prominently on its website, "so people won't have to dig for it," and to continue to seek other ways to save money.
"This is your big issue," she told council.