Posted: 8:03 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014

Dayton voters to decide income tax renewal



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Joey Williams 300x300 photo
Joey Williams 300x300

By Jeremy P. Kelley

Staff Writer

Dayton City Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to place an income tax renewal levy on the May 6 ballot.

The ballot issue would keep the city’s income tax rate at 2.25 percent, as it has been since 1984, and it would make the final 0.5 percent of the tax permanent.

The first 1.75 percent is already permanent, but the final 0.5 percent has required periodic approval, which voters have overwhelmingly given in 1990, 1994, 2000 and 2006.

That 0.5 percent piece of the tax accounts for more than $22 million in city revenue, or 14 percent of the general fund.

“The earnings tax is the largest source of money for the general fund, which pays for basic services – police, fire, waste collection, street maintenance, snow removal, recreation centers and parks,” Mayor Nan Whaley said. “If the earnings tax is not renewed, the impact would be nothing short of a disaster in the city of Dayton.”

Leaders of the city’s employee unions spoke in favor of the tax renewal Wednesday, saying the revenue produced is important to ensure the staffing, training and equipment necessary to provide city services.

Former Mayor Gary Leitzell argued during Wednesday’s meeting that City Commission was trying to mislead the public via ballot language that doesn’t clearly state that the tax will become “continuing” or permanent.

City Law Director John Danish told the audience that the city’s primary ballot language must read the way it does, according to Ohio law. But Danish added after the meeting that the entire income tax ordinance also will be printed on the ballot. That ordinance does include the information that the tax will run “for a continuing period.”

City Commissioner Joey Williams took issue with Leitzell’s contention that the Commission was trying to “sneak in” a permanent tax, pointing out that city officials have discussed the issue openly with the media.

As with all municipal income taxes in Ohio, people who work in the city pay the tax, regardless of where they live. But only city residents are eligible to vote on the tax.

Dayton residents who work outside the city and pay less than 2.25 percent in local income tax to another jurisdiction, must pay Dayton the difference, so they end up paying 2.25 percent total.

Dayton tax administrator Bejoy John said the city’s income tax mainly applies to two classes of income – wages and net business profits. He said pensions, social security, unemployment benefits, interest income and other categories are not subject to city tax.

 
 

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