By Christine Bryant
As the city of Reynoldsburg plans another town hall meeting to discuss a proposed income tax increase that would help fund a community center, a volunteer group has also formed to coordinate the levy efforts.
The Citizens to Improve Quality of Life in Reynoldsburg, comprised of a group of residents, is working toward getting information about the levy out to the community.
Once approved by city council, a 1-percent income tax increase will go on the May ballot, and if approved by voters, would help fund the construction of a YMCA facility at the site of the old community pool, adjacent to the Reynoldsburg Senior Center.
Funds from the income tax increase also would enable the city to make improvements to its streets, parks and other areas.
Marshall Spalding, a city council member and one of the co-chairs for the Citizens to Improve Quality of Life in Reynoldsburg, said the group plans to set up a Facebook page and work with the YMCA to provide brochures to residents so they can see the site plans and learn about the initiative.
“Walking literature, mail literature and lawn signs will also be out in February so we can involve as many people as possible for this important communication campaign,” he said.
Residents who wish to volunteer will be able to obtain a lawn sign, are encouraged to walk their neighborhoods and make phone calls, or donate monetarily.
To help fund the campaign that is working for passage of the income tax increase, volunteers are working toward getting 100 Reynoldsburg families to each donate $100. More information is available on the Proposed Reynoldsburg Community Center YMCA Facebook page, though those interested in donating may also write a check and mail it to Citizens for Quality of Life Improvement for Reynoldsburg, P.O. Box 1518, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068.
During the past year, city officials and representatives from the YMCA of Central Ohio have held several town hall meetings and focus groups to discuss the proposed facility that could be built off Davidson Drive. Through feedback from these meetings, YMCA officials have continued to evolve the design of the facility.
The city will hold another town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18 at Reynoldsburg City Hall, 7232 E. Main St., where residents are invited to hear about the latest updates to the proposed plans.
The meeting in November focused on who the proposed tax increase would affect, as well as what benefits it would bring to Reynoldsburg residents.
The last time the city raised its income tax was in 1983, and since then, voters have rejected all ballot initiatives, most recently in 2013.
This time, however, officials and supporters of bringing a YMCA facility to the city are more hopeful, and have been reaching out to residents to dispel any misconceptions of what a raise in income tax would mean.
Currently, Reynoldsburg’s income tax is 1.5 percent, lower than most other communities in Franklin County. By comparison, Whitehall, Grandview, Worthington and Bexley all have a 2.5-percent income tax, while Westerville, Dublin, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Grove City and Groveport have a 2-percent income tax.
The proposed 1-percent hike would raise Reynoldsburg’s to 2.5 percent and generate an additional $6.5 million a year, according to City Auditor Richard Harris.
About $1 million to $1.5 million of that revenue each year would go toward the cost of constructing the YMCA facility, with the remaining funds going toward filling some of the needs of the city’s departments, including police, parks and recreation, and streets.
Harris has stressed the city’s income tax only taxes income such as rental properties and pay for those who work in Reynoldsburg. It does not tax items such as Social Security payments, military pay and pension payments.
When a city institutes an income tax, that tax is withheld by an employer and paid to the city where the employee works. Someone who lives in Reynoldsburg but works in Columbus, for instance, would only pay Columbus’ income tax – not Reynoldsburg’s.
However, if an employee pays an income tax that is less than Reynoldsburg’s, that employee is responsible for the difference.
Plans currently call for a 48,000-square-foot facility, though YMCA officials have continuously adjusted details based on voter feedback. Other revisions have included adding a six-lane outdoor pool and a single story structure at the front of the building that can house partners such as primary care offices – a potential revenue boost that could help sustain the facility.