The city of Grandview Heights will be on the May 4 ballot with an income tax levy.

The city of Grandview Heights will be on the May 4 ballot with an income tax levy.

City council voted 5-2 Feb. 16 to place a measure to increase the city's income tax to 2.5 percent.

Council members Steve Von Jasinski and Ed Hastie voted against the resolution.

The levy would also increase the credit given to Grandview residents who pay income taxes to another municipality to 2.25 percent.

The levy resolution also states that 5 percent of all income tax revenue will be specifically allocated for capital expenditures, although that language will not be included in the levy as it will appear on the ballot.

The temporary income tax increase voters approved in 2005 is set to expire at the end of this year. The income tax was collected at 2.5 percent in 2006-08 and at 2.25 percent the past two years.

If approved by voters, the new tax rate will go into effect July 1.

Neither Hastie nor Von Jasinski commented on their vote during the Feb. 16 meeting.

When asked to comment after the meeting, Hastie declined.

In an interview, Von Jasinski said he voted against the resolution because he doesn't believe the income tax levy addresses the overall problem the city is facing -- that expenditures are chronically running higher than revenues.

"We're asking for a Band-aid or aspirin instead of asking for the doctor," he said.

The city must find ways to restructure how it provides its services and/or how they are funded, Von Jasinski said.

"We're just pushing this down the road for another council to have to address in the future," he said.

Council member and finance committee chair Anthony Panzera said he understands Von Jasinski's concerns about expenditures.

"I just don't agree with his methods," he said.

"A no vote on this issue is the wrong way to handle what would otherwise be a really good idea to improve the structure of the city budget," Panzera said. "I would definitely encourage all on council to continue to seek creative and even aggressive ways to reduce our expenditures immediately and in the future."

It has never been suggested that the income tax levy would mean the city would not have to address its expenditures, he said.

But council can't really address expenditures until residents have a chance to vote on increasing the income tax rate again to 2.5 percent or having it revert back to 2 percent, Panzera said.

The city of Columbus has already increased its tax rate to 2.5 percent, and 63 percent of Grandview residents are already paying that amount because they work outside of the city, he said.

"It doesn't make sense for us not to at least ask our residents to increase our rate to 2.5 percent when 63 percent of our residents are already paying that rate," Panzera said.

"It's hard for me to believe that the services we are providing are not the level of services people want," DeGraw said "Look at the last levy vote. We're asking to go (back) to 2.5 percent again."

If the city's income tax reverts back to 2 percent, it would represent a loss of revenue that would equal about 10 percent of the city's overall budget, Panzera said.

The impact would be felt almost immediately, DeGraw said.

Without the levy's passage, the city "would be out of money before the end of 2011," he said.

"We're not looking to do something big here, like build a new city building or expand our services or buy new equipment," DeGraw said. "This is so we can maintain what we have."

The city must find ways to restructure how it provides its services and/or how they are funded, Von Jasinski said.

Partnering with other municipalities in a joint fire district or using individual levies or park and recreation or fire services are examples of the kind of ideas the city needs to consider, he said.

"We should still be a full-service city. But we need to change the dynamics and matrix of how things are funded, Von Jasinski said. "We need to sit down and seriously look at these things, and we haven't done that yet."

DeGraw said Von Jasinski has been involved in past discussions about the feasibility the concept of joint fire districts and should know better than to continue to raise that as a workable option.

"We've looked at this two or three times before and I've told Steve I'd be willing to look at the joint fire operation idea if you could show me that it would actually save us money," he said. "So far, he hasn't been able to show me that."

Having a local fire operation "is one of the services I think our residents feel close to," DeGraw said.

The city made extensive cuts in its expenditures in 2005 when its revenue stream was drastically reduced due to the loss of Big Bear and other major taxpayers.

"We essentially cut 10 percent of our staff at that time," he said. "Every department got reduced and we reorganized how we use people."

He is working with department heads to find ways to immediately cut another $300,000, he said.

"Ever since I've been in office I've had to operate under a tight budget, and we are running lean," DeGraw said. "It would be hard to cut even further."