The leader of a group of Bexley residents opposed to Issue 24, the city's Nov. 8 municipal income tax issue, says there is "a growing number of area residents voicing concern" with the approach city officials are taking to balance the budget.

The leader of a group of Bexley residents opposed to Issue 24, the city's Nov. 8 municipal income tax issue, says there is "a growing number of area residents voicing concern" with the approach city officials are taking to balance the budget.

Bexley City Council is asking voters to approve an increase in the city income tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent as part of a plan to deal with a looming city budget deficit. Mayor John Brennan also recently submitted a plan to reduce expenses by nearly $1 million per year. Those cuts, combined with revenue from the income tax increase, will help the city offset the elimination of the Ohio estate tax and reductions in local government funds.

David W, Bishoff, treasurer of the Committee to Protect Bexley Home Values, says he represents "the concerns of Bexley residents who feel that a tax increase should be the last resort, not the city's first resort."

Bishoff says Issue 24 includes a "double-whammy" for most local taxpayers.

"Over 90 percent of Bexley's workforce works outside of the community," he said. "Those who do will be hit up twice by this proposal. Issue 24 calls for an income tax credit reduction, from 80 percent to 65 percent, on top of the 0.50 percent income tax increase.

"Your income tax just doubled if you live in Bexley and work outside the city," he said.

Bishoff contends that for every $100,000 of income, Issue 24 would cost about $875, compared to the current rate of $400.

"Setting that point aside, the thought that any city can continually increase the taxes of the residents to make ends meet is simply not a sustainable approach to the driving of all of the revenues that the city needs to operate," he said. "The city needs to create differing sources of revenue. Our real estate taxes already place us in the upper tier of the most expensive in the entire state of Ohio. If this income tax increase passes, our income taxes will also be one of the highest in the state."

Bishoff contends that will have a negative impact on property values, a view Issue 24 supporters disagree with.

"With all of the choices that individuals have when buying a home, this will place Bexley in a very uncompetitive position and values will drop," he said.

Bishoff said his group doesn't want to see services in Bexley cut.

"What we want is to drive revenues in a more sustainable and creative manner," he said. "What we want is for our leadership to step up and offer up other ways to drive revenues into the city without simply going to the voters for more money. What we want is for our leaders to quit spending more money than they have. What we want is for our leaders to get creative in their approach, stop telling us what they can't do and start crafting a plan that will actually work and be sustainable."

Bishoff said the city needs to make more sacrifices.

"This is a tight-knit community whose residents not only love it here, but are also willing to make personal financial sacrifices so their families can attend our top-notch public schools and enjoy solid city services," he said. "We feel it's time for city leaders to make similar sacrifices before asking us to open our wallets to cover a budget deficit with a permanent increase in income tax."

Bishoff said one of the biggest objections he has heard to the increase in is the fact that it is a permanent increase.

"Many people have voiced that they were voting against it in November with the understanding that they (the city) could then put a referendum on the ballot in May for a temporary three-year tax," he said. "What this tells me is that people are not adverse to assisting the city to get through this tough time. However, they are adverse to simply rolling over and accepting a permanent increase in income tax.

"I thought that this showed a very interesting side of the Bexley residents, one that understood that there was a need, but unwilling to accept that it could not be fulfilled in another way other than a permanent increase."