NORTH RIDGEVILLE — City Council approved one of two measures Monday night to place a 0.85 percent city income tax hike on the November ballot.
Action to approve the issue was a bit unusual, due to City Charter provisions.
Council approved a resolution to place the tax increase on the ballot, but postponed action on a similar measure, which would raise the income tax from 1 percent to 1.85 percent.
Council voted 4 to 2 to postpone action on the latter measure until the first meeting in December following the November election.
Council members Dennis Boose, D-2nd Ward, and Robert Olesen, R-4th Ward, voted against the delay.
Boose also voted against putting the income tax increase before voters, saying he felt it was unfair to ask residents to consider two tax measures simultaneously.
Expected to generate between $2.6 million and $2.8 million in additional annual tax revenue, the 0.85 percent tax hike would help pay for a new fire station, improvements to the city’s over-burdened sewer system and other capital projects.
The city collected about $7.9 million in income taxes in 2013, said Auditor Chris Costin.
Because about 83 percent of residents work outside North Ridgeville, they would not be subject to the tax increase, Costin said.
As a result, the 0.85 percent income tax increase would be borne by about 17 percent of the city’s residents, including city employees, those employed by the North Ridgeville Schools and anyone who works for a business in the city.
Boose did side with his colleagues in a 6-0 vote to place an $8 million bond issue on the November ballot that would pay the bulk of the city’s 14 percent share of the $64.8 million price tag for the major widening and improvement project planned for Center Ridge and Lear-Nagle roads.
Councilman Terry Keenan, R-1st Ward, was absent.
Law Director Andrew Crites explained that the Charter prevents Council from acting on legislation to implement the actual tax increase until voters decide the issue.
Reiterating comments he made during previous discussions on the issue, Boose said he feared many residents might choose between the income tax and road improvement bond issue rather than approve both.
“We’re asking residents to pay about $30 (per year) for the bond issue; it’s asking too much to have a city income tax hike on top of that,” Boose said.
Boose said he favors the reasons for both tax issues but could not support putting both before residents, especially in light of recently-enacted increases in sewer rates including a monthly base charge that is going from $1.82 to $9.
Boose has supported the $8 million road improvement bond issue, noting the project would bring improvements including four new detention basins to siphon off stormwater in the vicinity of the 2.3-mile portion of Center Ridge Road to be expanded from three to five lanes.
Council, meanwhile, alsoapproved a measure to boost the tax credit to 100 percent for residents who work outside the city.
Costin explained Council could approve that measure since the new credit would be null and void should voters reject the tax increase itself.
Boose also cast the lone dissenting vote on the tax credit proposal.
“The vast majority of our residents would end up not paying the new tax due to the (raised) credit,” Costin said. “We felt this was the least unfair tax.”
The measure was passed to ensure it is submitted to the county Board of Elections by the Aug. 5 deadline for the November election.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.