Dayton’s income tax hike passes

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Dayton’s income tax hike passes

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Janice Rodgers of Dayton waits to cast an early ballot Monday at the Montgomery County Board of Elections office in Dayton. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF

A strong majority of voters on Tuesday approved Dayton’s first income tax hike in 32 years, which city officials said will help the city plug a budget hole and pay for investments in pre-school education, infrastructure and service enhancements.

The ballot measure was on its way to passing with 55.7 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial results with 100 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said Issue 9’s passage shows that residents have confidence in the city’s leadership and spending priorities and recognize the difference these investments will make in improving the community.

“I think it really shows that the citizens of Dayton agree with the vision the city commission puts forward and we’re really excited to continue to work and grow our city,” she said.

With Issue 9’s passage, Dayton’s workers and working residents starting next year will pay a little more of their paychecks as the city’s earnings tax climbs to 2.5 percent from 2.25 percent.

The eight-year levy will generate about $11 million in additional annual revenue, costing a Dayton worker who earns $35,000 annually about $1.60 more each week.

The city plans to use the new money to close a projected $5 million deficit and fund universal pre-school, road and park improvements, hire more police officers and more frequently mow vacant lots.

The city’s first income tax hike since 1984 was necessitated in part because of about $40 million in state funding losses since 2011, city officials said.

If voters rejected the measure, the city would have had to make cuts to basic services, such as reducing the development fund by about $3 million and eliminating some fire and emergency medical services jobs, officials said.

But the center piece of Issue 9 will provide universal, high-quality pre-kindergarten to all of the city’s 1,900 4-year-old children. On Tuesday, a similar measure in Cincinnati that will also expand pre-K passed by a convincing margin.

Supporters campaigned hard for the new revenue, claiming it is needed to keep the positive momentum going for the city, which has seen a series of new housing and commercial investments and new development projects announced.

Advocates said the additional revenue will pay for important investments in Dayton’s neighborhood and future workforce.

About 70 percent of the Dayton’s income taxes revenue comes from people who work in city but live elsewhere.

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