Reynoldsburg News

Tax-related issues await July 22 action by Reynoldsburg City Council

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Reynoldsburg City Councilwoman Leslie Kelly was unsuccessful Monday in her attempt to delay a 1-percent income tax request until next spring.

Kelly asked at the July 15 finance committee meeting that an ordinance seeking to put that tax hike on the November ballot be tabled to give residents more time to consider the issue.

However, the committee voted to send it and a contentious tax-credit reduction ordinance on to the full council for what could be a final vote of approval for one or both July 22.

That meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Reynoldsburg Municipal Building, 7232 E. Main St.

The legislation seeking a 1-percent tax increase had its first reading July 8. If the tax issue goes to the ballot and is approved by voters in November, it would raise the city income tax rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent, generating about $5 million per year, City Auditor Richard Harris said.

Council has also heard two readings of an ordinance that would cut the city's income tax credit in half.

Council is not required to seek voter approval of this action, which would raise taxes for people who live in Reynoldsburg but work in other cities.

If that ordinance is approved after a third reading, residents who work outside Reynoldsburg would pay a 0.75-percent income tax to the city on top of whatever they pay the city where they work.

Harris said the tax credit reduction would bring in about $3 million annually.

Councilman Barth Cotner said the 1-percent tax increase ordinance would need five votes to pass as emergency legislation after a second reading on July 22.

Since the income tax credit reduction also was sent to the full council meeting for what would be its third reading, it sets up an "either/or" situation for the city and its residents, Cotner said.

"It is unlikely that both would be approved," he said. "If five council members do agree that the 1-percent tax issue should go to the ballot, then the income tax credit reduction would likely be read for a third time and tabled."

Alternatively, if five members of council do not agree on the income tax increase, a majority of members could agree on the tax credit reduction, which would raise taxes for the 80 percent of residents who work outside Reynoldsburg.

Cotner said he knows the city needs new revenue, but he would like to consider a lower income tax increase, such as a half-percent instead of 1 percent.

"What Leslie had to say made a lot of sense, too," Cotner said. "We would have more time to get information about the tax issue out there."

Kelly said Mayor Brad McCloud came up with a proposed plan for how $5 million of new revenue might be spent.

"If we are asking people to give us more money, then they will want details," she said. "Brad has some good ideas about improving public facilities and economic development. We've talked about building a community center -- that could be a reason for people to vote for the tax issue."

Kelly said the feedback she is getting from residents is that council members are "rushing to the ballot."

"They say we are rushing to put this on because we have the tax credit to fall back on," she said. "If we put this on the ballot in the spring, we will have time to get all the information out there."

 

Mayor's proposal

McCloud said his "proposal for funding priorities" is a "likely scenario for how I would propose to distribute approximately $5 million of new revenue into next year's budget."

His plan calls for the city to spend $2 million to $2.5 million on streets and mentioned substantial street improvements that should be made to Livingston Avenue, Palmer Road, Taylor Road and portions of East Main Street.

He said $875,000 could be spent to hire up to six new police officers and add needed cruisers; $750,000 could be used for public facilities and equipment because "the street department building and water plant are in desperate need of repairs."

Revenue also could be set aside for future construction, such as a public recreation or community center, according to his suggestions.

The plan allotted $500,000 for economic development, to "aggressively pursue development opportunities," such as the purchase of land and infrastructure for future development; and $275,000 was allotted for family park funds, to expand annual park maintenance projects for facilities, trails and programs.

Because council members agreed to recess in August, they will likely have to decide whether or not to place the 1-percent tax increase on the fall ballot at the July 22 meeting in order to meet the Aug. 7 deadline for filing with the Franklin County Board of Elections, Cotner said.

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