South Charleston seeks income tax increase for road work

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(Posted Sept. 28, 2017)

By Christine Bryant, Staff Writer

With more than half of the village’s roads deemed “critical,” South Charleston officials say approval of an income tax levy increase this fall would provide the funds necessary to fix their ailing roads.

The village has placed an eight-year, .25-percent income tax hike on the Nov. 7 ballot, which would increase the total income tax collected by South Charleston to 1.25 percent. If approved, the income tax increase is expected to generate $1.5 million over eight years.

After those eight years expire, the village could elect to put a renewal before voters, or simply let the .25-percent increase drop back to the original 1 percent.

Funds from the income tax increase would be used to repair or replace roadways in the village, which South Charleston Mayor Sam Stucky says are in dire need.

“We had a company come in and do a survey of our streets,” Stucky said. “They’ve been bad for quite a while. The survey looked at 43 of our streets in the village, and 26 scored in the critical stage and need immediate attention.”

At the critical stage, this puts the roadways beyond repair and in need of replacement, he said.

“We haven’t had any street repairs for a number of years, and it’s just time,” Stucky said. “We felt we were at a decision point as a village of which way we want to go with this. Do we want to take care of our streets and make sure the village stays nice and is better about attracting new businesses, commerce and residents?”

A small community of about 1,500 to 1,600 residents in Clark County, South Charleston has long relied on state funding and federal grants for any street repairs. However, Stucky said that funding simply isn’t there anymore.

“I can’t even remember the last time we’ve had village streets replaced or curbs replaced,” he said. “It has to have been 20 years or so since any major roadwork. The village is only as good as it appears to be, and our streets just aren’t fun to drive on.”

The income tax increase primarily would affect individuals who work in South Charleston, which is home to about 1,600 jobs. The village’s largest employer is Yamada North America, which draws employees from several counties.

It also would affect South Charleston residents who work in another municipality and do not pay an income tax there or pay an income tax of less than 1.25 percent. South Solon, for example, has a municipal income tax rate of 1 percent. If a South Charleston resident works in South Solon, that resident would be responsible for paying the .25-percent difference to South Charleston.

The income tax increase, on the other hand, would not tax items such as social security payments, military pay and pension payments. A South Charleston resident’s property tax also would not be affected.

If a South Charleston resident works in another municipality that has an income tax greater than 1.25 percent, the income tax increase would not affect that resident either. For example, Springfield, London and Xenia all have municipality income taxes greater than 1.25 percent.

For every $100 a person earns on a paycheck, an approved income tax increase would cost affected individuals an extra 25 cents, Stucky said.

If voters approve the measure in November, the income tax hike would go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. Stucky said it would take the village about one year to build up enough funds to get started on the roadway projects.

“I just would like everyone to know that the federal and state governments just don’t want to take care of the village like they used to, and as citizens of the community, we are going to have to be the ones to take care of our town,” he said. “I believe the people in this village will step up and make this a better place to live for all of us.”

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