GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commissioners voted to place a one percent income tax issue on the ballot for the upcoming Ohio May 2 primary election and dropped ballot language about capital expenses from their proposal.
This will be the third time the issue has been placed before voters after two prior failures to pass. Commissioners and city officials have cited the need for a tax levy in order to fund the Gallipolis Police Department and safety operations as the city has faced severe budget issues over the last few years. Commissioners decided to drop previous ballot language referencing capital expenses in the hope this would foster public trust in that money gathered from the tax would be spent solely on public safety needs.
Commissioners voted to amend the ballot language which would have said “A majority affirmative vote is necessary for passage. Shall the Ordinance providing for a one percent (1%) increase on income for public safety operations and capital expenses … be passed?”
With the capital expenses phrase dropped from the proposed ballot language, commissioners voted unanimously to ask the Gallia Board of Elections to place the issue on the next election ballot.
Commissioner Matt Johnson addressed that some individuals in the past were concerned with what capital expenses as a legal term may mean in how collected tax money may be used. Was it too broad a term when the city was proposing the tax issue as meant to be used as a means of funding safety operations only? City Solicitor Adam Salisbury advised that commissioners should consider the future needs and size of the city because if the ballot language dropped capital expenses, legally the city would need to make certain all money gathered from the tax initiative was spent on safety operations and would “forever” remain that way as per Ohio Revised Code tax practices.
Commissioners would eventually agree and drop the capital expenses language.
The tax issue has previously failed twice. Gallipolis residents voted down the municipal income one percent tax increase, 598 to 303, during the May primary last year, and again, 725 to 652, during the 2016 November election.
Should the tax issue pass this time, it would increase the income tax already gathered in the city to two percent, as it was previously only one percent.
City officials have cut and combined positions in an attempt to save money over the last few years, citing major budgetary problems due to cuts in state spending and legislation changes. Officials have said they are concerned that they are unsure they can make further cuts to policing equipment and personnel without a drop in “services” to city residents.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.