Dayton says city income tax levy must be renewed in 2024 to avoid drastic cuts

In 2016, city voters agreed to increase Dayton’s income tax rate from 2.25% to 2.5% for 8 years; money has paid for roadwork, preschool, public safety

Dayton plans to ask voters in 2024 to renew an income tax measure that has generated between $11 million and $15.4 million annually, paying for universal preschool, public safety personnel and capital investments, road resurfacing, park improvements and vacant lot maintenance.

Dayton officials say this revenue is critical because the city’s neighborhoods need additional investments and the city would have to make dramatic cuts to services and staffing in 2025 if this revenue source goes away.

“Can’t stop now,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein. “Need to keep going. Lots of work left to do, but very inspiring results as it relates to the last seven years of work.”

On Nov. 8, 2016, nearly 56% of Dayton voters approved an additional eight-year 0.25% earnings tax that was known as Issue 9, and was later rebranded as Your Dollars, Your Neighborhoods.

The measure, which increased the city’s income tax rate from 2.25% to 2.5%, is set to expire at the end of next year. For a person with $50,000 in annual taxable income, this 0.25% piece of the city’s tax costs $125 a year.

Issue 9 was expected to generate roughly $11 million each year, but collections have ranged from $11.1 million in 2017 to nearly $15.5 million in 2022, according to city data.

The city committed to putting these funds toward Preschool Promise ($4.3 million annually), road repaving ($3.4 million), maintaining and improving public safety ($2.5 million), mowing vacant lots ($572,000) and city park improvements ($244,000).

Preschool Promise is a program that seeks to ensure that every 3- and 4-year-old in the city can attend an affordable, high-quality preschool, officials said.



More than 10,000 Dayton children have attended Preschool Promise partner sites in the community, said LaShea Lofton, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

The city also has used Issue 9 funding to repave 239 lane miles of residential roadway since 2017, Lofton said.

The average pavement condition index of roadways in the city went from about 50 (poor) to more than 71 (satisfactory), the city said. The pavement condition index has improved in every city neighborhood.

The city has completed 25 improvement projects at 20 different parks since 2017, Lofton said. Improvements include new playground equipment and shelters and resurfaced basketball and tennis courts.

The city also committed to hiring about 20 officers to increase the police department’s staffing level to about 365 officers. The city had 345 officers in July of 2016.

The city has funded 365 sworn officers every year since 2017, but the police department has struggled to retain its personnel, said Joe Parlette, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

Parlette says the police department’s attrition levels are “unlike anything we’ve seen in history.”

However, he said the city still hopes to achieve its staffing goal of 365 officers. He also said Issue 9 has helped the fire department maintain its staffing levels.

Funds also have been used for capital equipment and technology for the safety forces, the city said.

The city says if the 0.25% levy is renewed, it likely will generate about $15.6 million in 2025 and $15.8 million in 2026. The city manager recommends seeking a levy renewal sometime next year.

Deputy City Manager Lofton said higher-than-expected tax revenues have helped the city continue to meet its Issue 9 commitments even though the costs of doing business and providing city services have increased.

City Manager Dickstein said if the levy is not renewed, the city might have to cut 150 to 200 positions, or as much as 11% of the city’s workforce. The city manager’s recommended general fund budget is nearly $212 million in 2024.

Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. said the city has delivered on its Issue 9 promises, and renewing the tax measure is important to keep the city moving in the right direction.

“I would hate to think about what we’d be doing or where we would be if we have to look at making any kind of cuts,” he said. “The wind is behind our back, in terms of the things we’re doing, and I certainly want to help us keep it there.”

Back in 2016, some residents and community members said they opposed Issue 9 because they objected to higher taxes.

Some residents and community activists criticized Issue 9 because they said they did not like the city’s spending plan for the new revenue. Some critics said the city could have used that money for more impactful investments.

The Issue 9 levy only applies to people who live or work in the city. The levy does not tax Social Security or retirement income or interest earnings.

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