Beavercreek income tax on ballot in November

Beavercreek wants voters to pass a 1% earned income tax on Nov. 3 that would be used to help pay for infrastructure needs in this Greene County city.

The city put the income tax on the November election ballot because city leaders say they don’t want to constantly come to the people of Beavercreek for more money via property tax levies. Beavercreek is one of four cities in Ohio without an income tax, nearby Bellbrook is another.

If passed, the income tax would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

City Manager Pete Landrum said the city plans to use the roughly $14.5 million that would be generated from the income tax in the first year to replace a street levy set to expire at the end of 2021 and also help the city tackle long overdue infrastructure projects. Landrum said Beavercreek has a backlog of infrastructure projects that will cost close to $200 million to fix things like drainage, culverts, curbs and sidewalks in the city.

The total revenue in Beavercreek’s general fund is $4.48 million, Landrum said.

Beavercreek residents opposed to the income tax say they want to city to continue to come to them with levies because it keeps the city accountable for how they spend taxpayer money.

Tony Corvo, a Beavercreek resident and a member of the Beavercreek Tax Busters PAC, said he doesn’t think the city needs an income tax since it has gotten by without one for 40 years. Corvo said an income tax would be a “game changer” and the city might spend funds in a way that residents don’t want.

“With an income tax, all the money goes into the general fund and there’s a disconnect between maybe what people think the money should be used for and what council thinks it should be used for,” Corvo said.

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John Mitchel, also a Beavercreek resident and a member of the PAC, said if the income tax passes, there is no guarantee that city council will spend money the way the majority of residents want it to be spent.

“Levies are for a specific thing that citizens decide,” Mitchel said. “Levies keep the control of the taxes with the citizens.”

Mitchel gave the example of the city-owned golf course, saying if the income tax is passed Beavercreek could decide to take on “pet projects,” like building a multi-million golf course without asking citizens.

Landrum said levies alone can’t cover sidewalk repairs and storm water damage repairs that need to get done.

The city said having an income tax will spread the tax burden from residents to people who live outside of Beavercreek but work there. Landrum estimates about two-thirds of the revenue generated from the income tax will be from non-residents. He also estimates that 75% of the workforce in Beavercreek are non-residents.

Any Beavercreek resident who already works in a community with a property tax will get a credit up to 1%, Landrum said. So, for example, someone who lives in Beavercreek and works in Jamestown, which has a half percent income tax would pay the Jamestown tax and a half percent to the city of Beavercreek.

About half of the city’s residents work in a city with an income tax, so they wouldn’t see an increase. Civilians who live in Beavercreek and work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base would have to pay the tax.

“It’s a city property tax reduction,” Landrum said. “We live and die by the property tax. People complain all the time about their property taxes being high, well, the city is trying to do something about that. This income tax method has non-residents help pay for city services.”

The city will let a $4.5 million streets levy expire at the end of 2021 if the income tax passes.

Corvo said for the average Beavercreek resident this income tax would mean a tax increase. Even though city property taxes would be reduced, the county and school portions of the property tax would still exist. The city portion of Beavercreek property taxes would drop from 40 cents per dollar to 19 cents, according to a presentation made by the city.

“You’re not going to save a lot in your property taxes,” he said.

Corvo and Mitchel said they would both personally benefit because they are going to retire or are retired, but are still opposed to the income tax. Social Security, retirement, child support and alimony would all be exempt from the income tax.

“I don’t want to give to my kids, my grand kids, my share of the tax burden,” Corvo said. “Young people struggle with student loans, starting a family and all that.”

Brian Jarvis, a resident and a member of the citizen-run Beavercreek Fairer Funding Committee, said he and others in his group are supportive of the income tax.

“This is a fairer and more equitable way of funding things,” Jarvis said.

Jarvis said when the city was first founded, it was a “bedroom community,” and an income tax wouldn’t have made sense. But today, with so many more jobs in Beavercreek, Jarvis said the income tax is a smarter way to run the city.

“As Beavercreek has grown, the costs of maintaining the infrastructure and police and the parks and rec and having to maintain roads and streets have grown,” Jarvis said. “Property taxes are not an efficient way to fund a city of our size.”

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If the income tax fails, the city is going to need to put more levies on the ballot within next three years. Jarvis said these levies could be equivalent to 60% increase in property tax.

Landrum said total property taxes for 2020 were $21.1 million.

“We (Beavercreek Fairer Funding Committee) just think the income tax better deal than a property tax increase,” Jarvis said. “This just makes common, financial sense."

Jarvis said the 1% income tax proposed is one of the lowest in the region and would benefit residents in the long-run. Dayton’s income tax is 2.5%, Kettering has a 2.25% income tax and Riverside has a 1.5% income tax.

Mitchel said another reason he is opposed to the tax is that city council can change the amount of an income tax. The city can’t change levies unless it is voted on by the people, he said. Landrum said the City Charter and the Ohio Revised code requires that residents vote on a change in the rate of income tax.

“We just think it’s a good thing that the city doesn’t have an income tax,” Mitchel said.

Bill Kucera, the city’s financial director, said if the income tax passes, Beavercreek would likely hire an outside administrator, like the Regional Income Tax Authority, and also have a few employees at city hall to answer income tax questions.

The city would use 3% to 5% of what is generated from the income tax to pay for those services.

Voters turned down an income tax in 2013. About 61% of residents voted against it, according to the Greene County Board of Elections.

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