Reynoldsburg voters could see tax issue on fall ballot

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By Dustin Ensinger
Staff Writer

Reynoldsburg residents are likely to face a request for an income tax increase on the November ballot.

On June 2, Reynoldsburg City Council’s finance committee asked the administration to draft two different pieces of legislation to place a 0.5 percent income tax increase on the ballot.

One measure would simply raise the city’s income tax. The other would spell out  how those increased revenues would be spent.

If voters approve the measure, it is expected to generate about $3 million annually.

City residents defeated the previous four attempts to increase the income tax. However, each of those ballot measures called for a 1 percent increase.

“They thought it was too high and too vague,” said Doug Joseph, council president.

City Auditor Richard Harris believes the problem at the ballot has been residents are not aware of the city’s revenue problem.

“You don’t have their attention,” he said, pointing out that the Reynoldsburg City School District does not succeed at the ballot until voters are aware of a financial problem.

“They never passed a school levy with the buses running,” Harris said.

Committee members also considered reducing the city’s income tax increase and a property tax levy to address its revenue problems.

Most committee members said they preferred the income tax increase because it would have a minimal impact on city residents.

About 80 percent of city residents work in other municipalities, according to Harris. Many would be affected by a reduction in the income tax credit.

“I still do not agree with imposing a tax on people,” said Councilwoman Leslie Kelly.

Approximately two-thirds of those who work in the city reside outside the corporate limits.
But not all agreed with the decision.

Councilman Mel Clemens said he preferred addressing the city’s revenue problem by reducing the income tax credit, thus guaranteeing the city additional revenue.

“I’ll support it on the ballot and then I’ll bring it up again because it won’t pass,” Clemens said.

Cutting the income tax credit in half would bring in about $3 million annually.

Voters have not approved a tax increase in the city since 1981.

The city operates on a budget that generates about $14 million in income annually. Gahanna and Reynoldsburg are the only two Franklin County cities to tax their residents’ income at a rate of less than 2 percent.

Due to its lack of revenue, officials state the city’s infrastructure is beginning to crumble. A study by an engineering firm found the city needs to spend at least $2.2 million annually to keep up with road maintenance.

“I want to see this city improve, not stay the same,” Clemens said.

Council will need to pass a measure prior to its August recess to ensure the income tax increase is on the November ballot.

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