Fairborn residents will vote on an income tax increase on March 17 to bolster its police and fire departments.
Fairborn’s income tax rate is currently 1.5%. The city is proposing adding a half a percent, which would bring its income tax rate to 2%, if approved. For someone making $50,000 a year, that change would cost an additional $20.83 per month. That adds up to an additional $250 a year.
The additional half-percent income tax would generate about $4.8 million annually, all of which would go toward the police and fire departments, City Manager Rob Anderson said.
The fire and police departments haven’t determined what exactly they will use the additional money for, but said they would like to hire additional personnel.
“My guys and gals are committed to providing the best service possible to the city, they are 100% committed,” Fairborn Fire Chief Dave Reichert said. “But in order to do that, we need to be able to grow with the city.”
The 10-year income tax will be on the ballot in March, but the increase wouldn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2021, if approved.
The city only taxes earned income, so the proposed increase would not tax retirement income, Social Security or other forms of assistance.
This income tax increase would affect both Fairborn residents and people who live elsewhere but work in the city, Anderson said, like those who work for Wright State University.
The city of Fairborn has not had a income tax increase since 2005, Anderson said. In that time, the city has grown significantly.
Both the police and fire departments have seen an increased call volume every year, Reichert said. The costs of fire and police equipment also increase every year, Police Capt. Terry Bennington said.
If the levy fails on March 17, Anderson said the city’s general fund might dip below the amount it is legally required to have. Fairborn’s charter states that the city must always have 12% of its budget on hand. For 2020, the fire department’s expense budget is $7.3 million. The police department’s budget is $7.6 million for 2020.
Fairborn’s annual budget is $20.3 million for 2020.
If the funds in that budget are less than 12%, Fairborn likely would make cuts to personnel as soon as 2021.
“We are trying to avoid that,” Anderson said.
The fire department is taking measures now to make sure funds don’t dip that low, Reichert said, like not filling open fire positions and waiting to buy new equipment.
“But, of course, we’d like to eventually get these things done and get those positions filled,” Reichert said.
The city has been hosting informational meetings about the income tax in various public spaces, like churches and the Fairborn Senior Center. Anderson said most people who have attended come to listen and learn about the income tax.
Fairborn will hold a final informational meeting on March 3 at 6 p.m. at the Fairborn Senior Center, located at 325 N. 3rd St.
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