By Sue Botos
Voters will once again have the chance to decide whether or not to increase the city income tax.
Mayor Pam Bobst stated at Monday’s City Council meeting that the city would place a 0.5-percent tax increase on the November ballot. She added that the measure would be identical in scope to one that was defeated by a narrow margin last year.
“The need continues to grow,” Bobst told West Life after the meeting. She added that the funds generated by the tax, which is estimated to be $2 million yearly, will be used only for capital improvement projects. The proposed tax hike would place the city rate at 2 percent, up from the current 1.5 percent, and reflect an amount closer to the majority of county municipalities. The measure also calls for an increase of 0.5 percent in tax credit. A resident making $50,000 annually would see their income tax rise by $250.
After the tax increase was defeated last year by a 2,752 to 2,681 margin, Bobst had stated that there may not be another try. However, she said that several residents had approached her, requesting a return to the ballot. “We will be reaching out to the residents to help with the campaign,” she said, adding that a committee will be organized to educate the community on the need for the funds.
The city has not increased the income tax since 1977.
“The message will be the same,” Bobst added. When first discussed by council, it was stated that the amount raised by the income tax could help replace the up to $2 million the city used to receive annually from the now-defunct estate tax. These funds were used for projects such as the recreation center. Although Bobst stressed that any additional revenue realized by the proposed tax would go to capital improvements, it would free up funds for other projects that are currently being used for repairs.
Council is expected to shortly begin the process of drafting the legislation that would allow the measure to be placed on the November ballot.