Issue 12 on Tuesday’s ballot is essentially the same proposal Moraine voters rejected in November, when about 54 percent were against it. STAFF

Moraine again asking voters to keep higher income tax rate

A five-year tax hike was approved by 54 percent of the voters in 2014, but a proposal to remove its temporary status was defeated last fall.

Issue 12 on Tuesday’s ballot is essentially the same proposal Moraine voters rejected in November, when about 54 percent were against it.

Part of the reason for the defeat “was the verbiage on the initial proposal - where it was very hard to understand whether it was an actual increase or whether it was a renewal,” Moraine Acting City Manager Michael Davis said.

“And we were able to work with the board of elections to be able to get the language changed to reflect what it actually is,” he said.

RELATED: Moraine voters asked to keep income tax increase that generates $3.6M a year for the city

Issue 12 asks “for the continuation of existing 0.50% levy” – which is set to expire at year’s end - keeping the current rate of 2.5 percent “for a continuing period of time” without expiration, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Specifically, the ballot language asks:

“Shall the Ordinance providing for the continuation of existing 0.50% levy on income for the purpose of general municipal operations and improvement of municipal services to the citizens for a continuing period of time beginning on January 1, 2020, be passed?”

Since being approved five years ago, the issue has cost a worker in Moraine earning $50,000 annually about $250 more a year, officials said.

With about 6,700 residents, Moraine’s daytime population is between 14,000 and 15,000, including about 2,000 who work at Fuyao Glass America Inc., Davis said.

The success of Fuyao – and businesses such as Heidelberg Distributing, Tyler Technologies and DMAX Ltd., among others – has helped boost the income tax revenue, Davis said.

RELATED: Moraine residents could see new fees after levy failure

Approval of the 2014 issue was initially projected to add about $1.88 million a year, Moraine officials said. But it has generated more than $3 million annually, totaling about $3.6 million last year, Davis said. That’s about 20 percent of the city’s annual revenue, he said.

Those funds have helped Moraine provide services such as street lighting, residential trash collection, senior snow removal, and sidewalk and curb repairs without charging its residence, according to the city.

“A continuation and renewal of this is essentially something that’s going to allow us to do what we’ve been doing….providing those services,” Davis said.

Meanwhile, the city has spent more than $1.52 million on safety services. Those improvements include a dispatch center with new radios and computer-aided software, as well as more than a dozen police and fire vehicles, according to the city.

The additional funds that Issue 12 would generate are “very important to us,” Davis said.

Another defeat, he said, would mean the city would focus on a November passage and likely create a committee of residents to talk about possible cuts.

“It would be sizable, and measurable and noticeable changes that would have to be made to our services,” Davis said.

RELATED: Local tax bills vary as much as $3K for similar households

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