Reynoldsburg voters gave a big thumbs-up May 2 to Issue 11, the city income tax increase, which will raise the tax rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.
Mayor Brad McCloud and his wife, Stephanie, logged vote results during an election-night gathering at the Reynoldsburg Municipal Building as runners visited precincts and reported back with vote tallies.
By 9:30 p.m., city officials and others gathered to watch results wore big smiles as the tax issue appeared to be passing.
As of 11 p.m. May 2, the Franklin County Board of Elections was reporting the tax issue had racked up 1,244 votes in favor (67 percent) and 624 votes against (33 percent.) In Fairfield County, voters in five overlap precincts also approved the tax increase by a vote of 766 (66 percent) to 397 votes opposed (34 percent) according to figures from the Licking County Board of Elections. All the totals are unofficial until the vote is certified.
“It was a long road to get here and it feels pretty good,” McCloud said.
The city of Reynoldsburg has not passed a city income tax increase since 1983.
The last attempt to raise Reynoldsburg taxes by 1 percentage point failed in November 2013, with about 55 percent of votes cast against the issue and 45 percent in favor.
McCloud said the city’s attempts to engage the community in the planning of a new community recreation center - contingent on passage of the tax increase - may have convinced more people to vote in favor of the tax issue.
“The biggest thing that made a difference is the fact we will be able to build a recreation center that can benefit toddlers to senior citizens and tangibly impact every individual in Reynoldsburg,” he said. “I think it helped that a lot of groups came together to support us, including the school board, which passed a resolution of support.
“I want to thank everyone who got involved in town meetings and everyone who worked together to pass this issue,” he said. “I appreciate the level of engagement.”
Councilman Barth Cotner agreed.
“I absolutely think that the opportunity to have a community recreation center got people excited,” he said. “I think people are ready to see Reynoldsburg move forward and see our community get where it should be. Now we have to make sure we plan and manage what our community wants to see happen.”
City Auditor Richard Harris said the tax issue would generate an additional $6.5 million per year in revenue.
The new community center will be built in partnership with YMCA of Central Ohio, which will operate the city-owned facility and pay for staffing, programming and maintenance. Plans include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an indoor track for walking and running and a full gymnasium.
Harris said the tax issue also would generate money to be used for road repairs and other infrastructure improvements in Reynoldsburg.
The tax increase affects residents who live and work in Reynoldsburg the most, Harris said. They will see a $100 increase per $10,000 in income. However, he said, about two-thirds of the revenue from the tax increase is expected to come from people who live in Reynoldsburg but work elsewhere.
“The problem with these generalizations is it doesn’t consider where people work and the credit they get on what they already pay,” he said. “Someone who lives in Reynoldsburg and works in Columbus is already paying 2.5 percent, so they would see no increase.”
People who work in cities where the income tax is less than 2.5 percent also would see a tax increase, he said.
The tax increase will not affect anyone who is retired or unemployed, Harris said.