CIRCLEVILLE – Circleville City Council discussed a income tax levy over the last several sessions to support the heavily cut safety forces in town. Councilman Barry Keller said that the special election would be costly and they simply didn’t have it in the budget, that they really need to continue to talk about the details of the Levy on how the monies would be spent and how they could campaign to make it successful to the Circleville Voters. They did not rule out putting the levy on the regular election but asked to discuss this levy more before voting on the ordinance.
During March’s City Council Meeting, members of the council and mayor said they might have put the cart before the horse when the finance committee pushed through an ordinance to the council to consider a special election to raise the city tax rate from 2.0% to 2.5%. This Tax Increase would create a 1.5 million dollar fund that would directly go to support and operations of safety forces.
Tom Spring said, “that only 600,000 dollars were in safety cuts to the budget, that it doesn’t look right that we are asking for 1.5 million to replace that.” Spring also said he feels we need to make sure that we are doing our due diligence to the taxpayers and put our best foot forward on how we are dealing with this shortfall.
Safety forces were cut to put Circleville’s budget to put it in the black by April 1 or face penalties from the state. Some of the tax cuts were defunding six firefighter positions (5 part-time one full time), and 2 full-time police officers.
Councilwoman Sherry Theis said, “a former director of the board of electrons told her in a meeting, that voters get upset with the costs of a special election like this and as the city, we really need to have consideration if we want to do that. Theis also mentioned that she spoke to RITA today (Regional Income Tax Agency) there are 310 municipalities across the state of all different sizes. RITA has a full listing available on the website of the city tax rate, and I did a count. Only 34% of the municipality cities pay 2% or more that’s where we are now. We are currently in the top third for income tax already. Now if the voters raised this rate to 2.5%, then Circleville would be in the top 6% of all municipalities only 18 of those 310 municipalities pay 2.5% that includes Bexley, Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights, Worthington, Reynoldsburg, and only one had a higher percentage at 2.75% which is Youngstown. This increase would put Circleville in the top echelon of municipal tax rates. This could affect people moving to Circleville, and we need to take that into consideration, they could move right outside the city limits and save money.”
Circleville Mayor Don Mcllroy supported the conversation and direction the council was going, “we should have had this talk years ago, and thinks Council is on the right track if they do the levy or not by talking openly about our finances.”
Barry Keller made a motion to hold the ordinance for a second reading to discuss the finances with the administration and the auditor. Then Council will set another meeting to consider this ordinance, before voting on it. The second reading was proposed on and was voted on unanimously; more discussion will happen on April 2, 2019,publicly on this topic. Council is welcoming public opinions and comments on how to deal with the shortfall.
If the council voted for this special election, it would cost around 16,000 dollars for the special election itself. Council aimed originally for the May election for this special election, but some of the council now think that is too soon and they would need to hold this election on October. We will keep you informed and please post your opinions on how the city should deal with this deficit on our facebook page, Council is reading them.