In a 5-2 vote, Reynoldsburg City Council approved emergency legislation Monday to let voters decide in November whether to approve a 1-percent income tax increase.

In a 5-2 vote, Reynoldsburg City Council approved emergency legislation Monday to let voters decide in November whether to approve a 1-percent income tax increase.

The city has until Aug. 10 to file documents with the Franklin County Board of Elections to place the request on the Nov. 8 ballot. If approved, it would raise Reynoldsburg's income tax from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent beginning Jan. 1, 2012.

Council members Doug Joseph and Nathan Burd both voted against going to the ballot this fall.

"We're elected by the citizens to do what we think is right, and whether they agree or disagree with what council members do, we have elections in the city they can replace us," Joseph said. "I'm very unhappy that we didn't spend more time looking at cuts and reforms before racing to the ballot."

Burd said he thinks the request for a 1-percent income tax increase is massive. He said he believes the city needs to take more time to see how it can manage before rushing to the ballot.

City auditor Richard Harris said a 1-percent increase would generate about $5.8 million. Even though Reynoldsburg needs to make up for $1.3 million in projected revenue losses next year, the extra money is needed for future infrastructure needs, he said.

"The last income tax increase that was put through the city started Jan. 1, 1982 30 years without a tax increase - that's a long time, folks," Harris said.

He said the latest complete income tax records from 2009 show 18,464 returns. Of that, 14,078 were residents who live in Reynoldsburg but work somewhere else.

"Many of those residents are already paying 2.5 percent, so this would cost those people nothing," Harris said. "About two-thirds of the dollars collected by us in income tax is from people who live somewhere else and work here."

An ad hoc committee charged with reviewing the city's budget issues reported to council on July 11 that there are two options for a tax increase: Increase the rate or reduce the 100-percent tax credit the city offers residents who work outside Reynoldsburg city limits.

The committee members said a tax increase would have the least impact on residents.

Council president William Hills reiterated Monday that the ad hoc committee report also said there need to be budget cuts and fee increases. However, he said, if the city does not do those things and get a tax increase, city council will have to consider approving a tax increase, not the voters.

"Our anticipated expenditures for 2012 are $13 million, our anticipated revenue is $11.7 million. That means, minimum, we have to have $1.3 million out of reserves or a tax increase, or somewhere, to match what our expenses are," Hills said.

"You are down at the bottom of the barrel that's why we're saying let's take a 1-percent increase to the ballot. And I'm not blaming the state this city has been an excellent steward of funds," he said. "Thirty years without a tax increase? It's got to be done."

Council member Chris Long said he is not in favor of a tax increase in today's economy, but said he voted in favor of going to the ballot in November to give the community a chance to have its voice heard.

"The only thing we voted in the affirmative was to give the people an opportunity," Long said. "I'm hoping people in Reynoldsburg are smart enough to say one of two things: The city administration made what cuts they could to show us they definitely need the money and that it's OK, or they're going to say, 'no, guys, you didn't do enough' and it's going to go down.

"We are not confirming that there should be a 1-percent income tax increase. All we are doing here tonight is saying this issue should be placed before the people," Long said.

Council member Barth Cotner said Monday's vote was an "opportunity to give our residents that chance to improve this community. It's not all up to us, it's up to the community Now is the time we step forward and provide some leadership to do the right thing," he said.

A little over a dozen residents attended Monday's council meeting. Most were in favor of having council put the tax request on the ballot, but some asked for specifics of what would be cut if the issue is rejected.

Areas brought up for possible cuts include the parks and recreation department, closing the senior center and laying off police officers.

"There have been a number of references of what the cuts would look like I think it would be remiss if I did not describe the kinds of things that we would have to do," Mayor Brad McCloud said.

He said the parks and recreation budget is about $870,000. Cutting that would still leave about $500,000 that would need to be cut from the budget. And that would require "a 10-percent layoff in our police officer workforce," McCloud said.

"I'm not saying that's the only way to do it, but this is way beyond buying cheaper copying paper we've run this on a shoestring skeleton crew and I will continue to do so, whether I have $100 or $200 to operate."

Council member Mel Clemens said the budget situation "is not something we discovered two weeks ago this is something the city auditor has been pounding in our head for the last year and a half. It's something we knew was happening and something we have to correct."