A proposed increase in the city income-tax rate from 2 percent to 2.5 percent will be on the ballot in Worthington on May 4.

A proposed increase in the city income-tax rate from 2 percent to 2.5 percent will be on the ballot in Worthington on May 4.

If approved, Issue 22 will raise about $3.5-million a year in additional income taxes for the city.

The increase is necessary because income-tax revenues have fallen off in recent years. In 2009, total income-tax collections declined 5.8 percent from 2008, or $860,000.

Nearly 60 percent of the city's income comes from income taxes.

If Worthington voters approve the measure, the city will continue to provide the same level of services, such as police, fire, trash collection, and parks and recreation.

Such capital projects as sewers and roads also would continue, and part of the money would go into efforts to retain and attract businesses to the city. A full-time economic development director would be hired, City Manager Matt Greeson said.

If the issue fails, residents and city leaders will meet and decide how to proceed, he said during a recent public forum. Options include charging fees for such services as trash and recyclables collection, an increase in property taxes, decreases in services or a combination of those options.

The income tax increase would not be paid by all residents.

Municipal income tax is charged only on earned income. It is not charged against Social Security, pensions, dividends or interest income.

Taxes also would not increase for the 41 percent of Worthington wage earners who work in Columbus and already pay 2.5 percent there.

The burden would be carried primarily by those workers who live and work in Worthington or who live in Worthington and work in a community that has an income-tax rate less than 2.5 percent. Those people would pay an additional $500 a year for every $100,000 of income.

In addition, the city would realize additional revenue from those who live in Columbus but work in Worthington. Currently, they pay 2 percent to Worthington and 0.5 percent to Columbus. If Issue 22 passes, all 2.5 percent would go to Worthington.

Critics of the income-tax proposal have not been organized, but a few have questioned the need for the increase during recent forums and in letters to the editor.

Resident Sunny Allen said taxpayers already have shouldered increases in school and library taxes in the past few years.

"Taxpayers feel besieged by our local governments," she said during a recent forum.

Letter writer Mike Zajano said the increase would be too large and would be a permanent fix for a temporary problem.

Supporters have been vocal and organized.

A group called Citizens for a Quality Community has raised money, created a website, created and distributed campaign literature and placed yard signs all over the city. Greeson said he has spoken to dozens of community groups.

In the past week, the tax increase has been endorsed by the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, the Old Worthington Association, the Worthington Historical Society and the Olde Worthington Business Association.