Supporters grateful after Marietta income tax increase passes

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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE 11/7/18

Marietta voters approved the income tax increase on the ballot Tuesday night.

The measure passed 56 to 44 percent. Supporters say this was desperately needed, especially for the fire department, where it will allow for capital replacement of aging equipment like its pumper truck. Its oldest truck is 31 years old and the average life span is 25 years.

The measure will also support more street repaving

"It is the voters of Marietta, the residents of Marietta that witnessed and acknowledged that we had a problem that needed dealt with," safety service director Jonathan Hupp said.

"Just immediate thankfulness to the citizens of Marietta that they supported us in this cause moving forward trying to do our best to protect the city," fire chief C.W. Durham said.

The new rate goes into effect January 1.

UPDATE 10/10/18

The November elections are less than a month away and Marietta voters will once again see a income tax rate increase on the ballot, a rate that hasn't been increased since 1985.

This proposal would raise the income tax rate from 1.7 percent to 1.85. It’s a little more modest than the 0.5 increase that was easily defeated in May 2017. This would affect earned income, meaning anyone that works or lives in the city. One key difference from the 2017 levy is this one is targeted.

“It’s earmarked just for fire department and street use," supporter and firefighter Daniel Hammer said. "$610,000 roughly will go to the fire department for equipment maintenance, repair and replacement, then the other 300 will go to streets for street repavement and repair."

The median household income in Marietta, according to latest U.S. Census data, is $33,670. Currently, a person with that income, pays $572 in income tax a year. That person would pay an additional $50 a year or 0.96 cents a week under this increase.

Although that doesn’t sound like much, proponents say the need is urgent.

"It's getting pretty desperate," Hammer added, "our oldest truck is 31 years old, our newest fire truck is 17 years old. They're usually on a 25-year replacement plan so it's just getting to the point where they definitely need to be replaced."

The other portion of new funds from this tax hike would go toward streets, which has greatly suffered as the city has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in local funding from the state in the last decade.

"Streets is an extreme burden on the general fund," Marietta City Council President Josh Schlicher said, "and it’s also a very expensive department as far as upgrading and maintaining our existing infrastructure in streets."

Some residents just oppose any more taxes but some are not satisfied with this proposal as it does not include those on a fixed income, such as those in retirement.

“We've had concerns and complaints from citizens who may be well to do and would like to chip in," Schlicher said, "but they’re not taxed because they’re on fixed income in retirement.

It’s important to know it is federal law that prohibits the city from taxing pensions, social security, capital gains, and other fixed income.

Ultimately, Schilcher said he understands that no one wants more taxes and respects anyone's decision to vote no but he wants voters to make an informed decision.

"We’re still going to be able to maintain city services," he added, "but they’re just not going to be where we’d like the levels to be."

In 2017, only 20 percent of registered Marietta voters came out to make their voice heard on this critical issue.

UPDATE: 6:55 P.M. 6/22/2018

Marietta city residents will vote on an income-tax increase this fall in the general election.

Resolution 18, passed its third reading and vote Thursday night at the city council meeting.

Currently, the income tax is 1.7% and it generates roughly $10 million a year.

The new ordinance raises it to 1.85%, which would raise an extra $700,000 a year.

It would apply to the earned income of anyone who lives or works in Marietta.

The ordinance will go on to the Washington County Board of Elections to be certified and put it on the ballot for the general election this fall.


UPDATE: 06/21/18 11:15 A.M.

Marietta City Council President Josh Schlicher says the council is set to vote on the final reading of a proposed income tax increase Thursday night at its council meeting.

The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Armory on Front Street.


UPDATE: 5/31/2018 10:45 P.M.

Marietta City Council introduced a proposed income tax increase Thursday night in a special meeting, and it passed its first reading.

City Council President Josh Schlicher tells WTAP they are moving forward on the path he laid out, and they plan to go through all three readings before voting.

Currently, the income tax is 1.7% and it generates roughly $10 million a year. The city council is proposing to raise it to 1.85%, which would raise an extra $700,000 a year.

It would apply to the earned income of anyone who lives or works in Marietta.

There will be more discussion on June 4th in the next finance meeting.

If you have any questions or concerns Schlicher says you can contact your council member or address them at the next council meeting.


ORIGINAL STORY: 05/06/18

Voters in Marietta could be voting on an increase in their income tax this November.

The Marietta City Council will hold a special meeting on Thursday, May 31 to introduce the proposed income tax increase.

Currently, the income tax is 1.7% and it generates roughly $10 million a year. The city council is proposing to raise it to 1.85%, which would raise an extra $700,000 a year.

It would apply to the earned income of anyone who lives or works in Marietta.

“It came about because we were facing a lot of different problems with finances not only declining revenues from state and federal sources but also changing dynamics of the city and its operations. And in order to get ahead of it we need to look at every single avenue that we can and that means looking at economic development, that means looking at personnel levels, that means looking operations of the city,” said Josh Schlicher, the president of the Marietta City Council, said.

“We want people to know that we’re working in the best interest as always in trying to provide the best services we can for the best value for their tax dollars.”

Schlicher said the revenue from the existing tax is allocated to 17 different funds including:
• 0.2% Fire Levy
• 0.2% Street Maintenance & Repair
• 0.1% Capital Improvements
• 0.2% General (shall be used for the General Municipal Operations, Maintenance, New Equipment, Extension, Enlargement and Improvement of Municipal Services and Facilities of the City)
• 1.0% General Fund
• 1.7% Total Disbursement

He says the proposed increase could affect this allocation.

A second reading is tentatively scheduled for June 7 at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting. A final reading with adoption is slated for June 21 at its regular council meeting.

If adopted, the legislation will “sit” for 30 days before going effect. It will then be sent to the Washington County Board of Elections to be placed on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot.

If voters support it, it will go into effect in 2019.



 
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