By Dustin Ensinger
Some Reynoldsburg City Council members recognize they have a revenue problem. They just are not sure how to solve it.
Members of council’s finance committee discussed options to boost the city’s revenue, including another attempt at an income tax increase, the elimination of an income tax credit for residents who work outside the city, bond funding and presenting voters with a property tax levy.
While there was no consensus on which direction to take, most officials seemed to agree something needs to be done.
“You’re going to have to face the facts, folks, you’re going to need money,” City Auditor Richard Harris said.
Reynoldsburg is one of just two Franklin County municipalities with an income tax of less than 2 percent. Four consecutive income tax increases have been defeated at the ballot.
Councilman Scott Barrett suggested the city put another income tax issue before the voters or repeal the income tax credit on the books. He said the city is millions of dollars short of the revenue it needs in order to properly maintain roads.
“We’re talking about making patches in roads that should have long since been replaced,” Barrett said.
But Councilman Mel Clemens said another income tax measure would be an exercise in futility.
“We’re in a city that is not going to pass anything,” Clemens said.
Instead, he suggested the city move forward with a road levy, saying the money generated from an income tax would not produce that much revenue due to the lack of companies with large payrolls.
The city currently generates just $21 per each $100,000 of property value with existing levies, according to Harris. Each additional mill would bring in about $600,000, he said.
Councilman Barth Cotner suggested a fusion of the two ideas: an income tax dedicated to road maintenance.
A previous income tax measure failed at least partially due to people being concerned the money would not be spent wisely, he said. He said he was concerned about tapping into the school district’s main source of revenue.
“That’s one of the community’s best assets,” Cotner said of the schools.
Councilman Cornelius McGrady broached the idea of bonding major road improvements.
The city has additional bonding capacity, Harris said, but not enough revenue to pay for the bonds.
Council tabled the discussion for a later date. But to get on the November ballot, it will need to act before its August recess.
Joint Economic Development Zone
In a special meeting, council approved an agreement to partner with Etna Township to form a Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ). An identical measure was approved by the Etna Township trustees.
The measure will still require the approval of Etna Township voters. If approved, it will create a JEDZ on nearly 1,500 acres near the intersection of Interstate 70 and State Route 310 in Etna Township. Workers in the JEDZ area would be assessed Reynoldsburg’s income tax rate of 1.5 percent.
Under Ohio law, townships cannot enact an income tax. However, by partnering with a municipality it can create a JEDZ and assess an income tax in the specified area at the municipality’s rate. The money must then be used for infrastructure projects to promote economic development.
In this case, the township plans to make a major bridge improvement among other projects.
The JEDZ is expected to generate about $400,000 in revenue annually. The township will keep 70 percent of the total. Reynoldsburg will receive 20 percent. The remaining 10 percent is used to pay the Regional Income Tax Agency and the board that oversees the JEDZ.