Reynoldsburg News

Cash-strapped city giving tax credit another look

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Adjusting Reynoldsburg's income tax credit is "a place to start" when it comes to finding money to repair the city's crumbling roads and infrastructure, Councilman Scott Barrett said last week.

Speaking at a May 5 finance committee meeting, Barrett said the full council needs to revisit a three-year-old ad hoc committee report that suggested Reynoldsburg either put an income tax increase on the ballot or reduce the city income tax credit, which would raise taxes without voter approval.

The report, completed in 2011, said the city had been operating too long by reducing funding for capital improvements.

Barrett said roads in Reynoldsburg still reflect that lack of funding.

"You judge a community by its houses and its streets," he said. "We have to find a way to fund our infrastructure. We talk about patching roads that should be replaced.

"We are the elected servants for our residents and their homes are their lifetime banks," he said. "We, as a city, need to help our administrators with a capital improvement plan."

Barrett said the city followed the ad hoc committee's suggestion to put an income tax increase on the ballot, but voters have rejected four attempts to pass a tax increase.

"The other suggestion was that we adjust the tax credit, which might be the place to start," he said.

Council approved a 50-percent reduction in the income tax credit last July, but the move was vetoed by Mayor Brad McCloud before it could go into effect. McCloud said at the time he wanted voters to make the decision to raise taxes.

The tax credit reduction would have required residents who work outside the city to pay a 0.75-percent income tax -- half of the city's 1.5-percent rate -- to Reynoldsburg, on top of whatever they pay to the city where they work.

Councilman Mel Clemens agreed with Barrett.

"The main issue is we keep putting off these road repairs," he said. "We need some kind of tax issue to bring revenue into our city. We've done a lot of talking, but the money isn't coming.

"We are in a city where voters have proved they won't pass a city income tax increase," he said. "So we need to reduce the income tax credit to get dollars to replace our infrastructure. We have to do it, because our people won't pass the tax."

Councilman Cornelius McGrady III asked if the city could consider a bond issue.

Auditor Richard Harris said bond money has to be paid back.

"I don't think we can take on more debt -- you can't pay off what you have," he said. "You need money, folks. You spent six to eight weeks trying to cut money out of the budget and you have to decide where to go next."

Councilman Barth Cotner wanted to know if a ballot issue could be written in such a way that a portion of the taxes collected could be designated for street repairs.

Harris said a tax issue could be worded so that a percentage of money collected would go into a street account.

"I think we should consider this and exhaust every resource," Cotner said. "No one wants to raise taxes, but it may be something we are compelled to do. It may be more palatable to voters if we present it as a way to fund particular street repairs."

Service Director Nathan Burd said some streets in Reynoldsburg, such as Baldwin Road, should be replaced. He said an estimate to replace the road came in around $850,000.

Clemens said the city should consider a property tax issue, "so that almost everyone will be paying for it."

The 2011 ad hoc committee's suggestions will be considered again during council committee meetings at 7:30 p.m. May 19 at the Reynoldsburg Municipal Building, 7232 E. Main St.

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