Tipp City leaders say income tax important for future projects

Tipp City Government Center. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF
Tipp City Government Center. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

TIPP CITY – Tipp City leaders are pushing to get the word out about the need for continuing an income tax that has helped fund the city’s capital improvement plan for an array of projects over the past decade including many street improvements.

Tipp City Council agreed to put a 0.50 income tax renewal request on this May’s election ballot.

City Manager Tim Eggleston said the CIP provides information to City Council on the needs of the community and city departments. “It is a tool to guide them when making budgetary decisions. The levy is the funding mechanism to carry out the plan,” he said.

The first attempt to renew the 0.50 percent income tax failed by around 100 votes in November.

The failure was attributed in part by some officials to ballot language not including the word “renewal.”

“Anything published stated it was a renewal, unfortunately, the ballot did not and, therefore, we believe voters thought it was a new tax. The May ballots should state renewal,” Eggleston said.

The campaign to promote the CIP renewal also was affected by COVID-19.

“COVID did not allow us to meet with organizations personally to make the pitch. I am not sure if zoom would be an effective means of communication or not,” Eggleston said. Levy supporters posted information on social media, published an advertisement and placed signs calling for levy support.

The more than $30 million project proposal was recommended in early 2020 by a volunteer Citizens Capital Improvement Plan Committee and outlined in mid-March for the council.

Among proposed projects were buying ambulances, fire vehicles and police cruisers along with street paving, a railroad quiet zone effort and interchange beautification improvements.

Another project discussed off and on over the years has been an overpass over the CSX railroad that cuts through the community. The cost of that project, if approved, would exceed what is covered in the CIP and would likely require payment by a separate bond issue, city officials said.

City voters a decade ago approved the10-year capital improvement program and income taxes totaling 0.50 percent to pay for it that are expiring in 2021 and 2022.

The proposed new 10-year program carries a price tag of nearly $25 million, according to figures given to council.

A 0.50 percent income tax would generate $2.65 million a year, said City Finance Director John Green.

The proposed project breakdown is as follows:

- Street Improvements (resurfacing, culvert replacements, sidewalk and alley improvements) –$14.2 million

- Street Equipment (trucks, tractors, street sweeper, leaf machine) - $1.3 million

- Park Improvements (including upgrades to the aquatic center) - $2.1 million

- Park Equipment (trucks, tractors, mowers) - $457,000

- Fire/EMS Vehicles and Equipment - $3.6 million

- Police Vehicles and Equipment - $1.24 million

- Building Renovations and Improvements - $1.6 million

- Information Technology Upgrades - $600,000

“Any excess funds would be used in the case of cost overruns (we’re estimating project costs ten years out) and projects that come up in the next 10 years which were not anticipated when the plan was put together,” Green said. “Occasionally we have an opportunity for grant funding for an improvement project that makes sense for the community but requires a local match. These funds could be used for the local matching funds.”

Major street issues were addressed during the last decade, but others still need work, Eggleston said. In addition, “you can do certain things to enhance your community,” he said.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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