Reynoldsburg City Council has 90 days to override a mayoral veto of an ordinance that would have cut the city's income-tax credit in half, but council President Doug Joseph said last week he doesn't think that will happen.
“It would take five votes, but since it only got four, I don’t see Cotner, Long or Kelly switching. Given their very public comments, that seems unlikely,” Joseph said.
Council members Barth Cotner, Chris Long and Leslie Kelly voted against the tax-credit reduction July 22, while Monica DeBrock, Scott Barrett, Cornelius McGrady III and Mel Clemens voted for it.
Mayor Brad McCloud exercised his veto power for the first time July 25 to nix the ordinance that would have instituted a 50-percent cut in Reynoldsburg’s income-tax credit.
It would have raised taxes for 80 percent of employed residents, without voter approval. It would have required those residents to pay 0.75-percent income tax to Reynoldsburg on top of whatever they pay in the city where they work.
Council approved that ordinance July 22, the same night members also approved an ordinance to place a 1-percent income-tax increase on the Nov. 5 ballot.
McCloud said although he is “painfully aware of the need for additional revenue in order to keep our great city moving forward,” the decision to raise taxes should be made by the citizens.
“I want the city of Reynoldsburg to be a destination for families of all ages, but in order to make that happen, we must provide certain and specific services at the appropriate levels,” he said. “Our citizens deserve safe and clean streets and neighborhoods.
“While additional revenue can help us move forward, I strongly believe at this point in time our residents should have the opportunity to make that decision at the polls,” he said.
McCloud said he hoped people who “strongly agree” that any tax issues should be placed on the ballot “will work to get out the message that if the ballot issue succeeds, an overwhelming majority of our citizens, including retirees on fixed income, will not be affected.”
Long said he was “very pleased” to hear about the mayor’s veto.
“I think it is a positive day for the citizens,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to take a proactive and positive direction with the people, since they no longer have that threat hanging over their heads.”
Kelly said she was also pleased.
“I think the mayor has demonstrated strong leadership,” she said. “It is important to let the voters decide on a tax issue.”
Members of a citizens’ Facebook page sent McCloud a barrage of emails after council approved both tax ordinances instead of choosing one plan to bring in more money.
The Facebook page called “Reynoldsburg – NO additional taxes without voter approval,” which has 51 members, erupted with discussions about the two ordinances after the July 22 council meeting.
Resident and page administrator Debby Peck said members had attended council meetings, contacted council members and met with McCloud, and understood that the tax credit reduction would be tabled if a tax levy were placed on the ballot.
“When both measures passed by council on July 22, our members rallied their efforts to contact Mayor McCloud to veto the credit-reduction ordinance,” she said.
After the veto, Peck said group members are not necessarily against supporting the city with additional tax dollars.
“While discussions of a tax levy being placed on the ballot were necessarily integrated into the discussions on the income tax reduction, it was never the intent of the Facebook group to debate the necessity for an income-tax levy,” Peck said.
She said the two tax ordinances have two distinctly different outcomes for workers who live in Reynoldsburg.
“We felt the income-tax reduction needed to be vetoed in order for voters to have the opportunity to make their decision on the tax levy based on its own merit,” Peck said.
The income-tax increase, if approved Nov. 5, would raise the city’s income-tax rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent and generate about $5 million annually for the city, Auditor Richard Harris said.
Joseph said if the income-tax hike is approved, it mostly would affect people who live and work in Reynoldsburg. He said it would also, however, affect people who work in a municipality that has an income tax less than 2.5 percent, or residents who work in a township, because townships cannot collect income taxes.