City OKs income tax raise on ballot

By Dean Wright - [email protected]

GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission unanimously approved a measure Tuesday to put a 1 percent income tax increase on the next election’s ballot to be overseen by the Gallia County Board of Elections.

The issue is expected to appear in the March 15 election. According to city officials, the measure is being brought before voters because of decreased revenue from state funds to the city, population decreases and businesses that have left the city over the years.

According to Gallipolis City Commission President Steven Wallis, the city has been operating as efficiently as possible with minimal staff for a few years, and while employees have been efficient in making due with shortened resources, longer hours and job duty consolidations, it is not a sustainable model to continue running the municipality into the future.

“We’re (city officials) in a bit of a hard place,” Wallis said. “Taxes are often a dirty word, but we believe the public expects us to maintain a certain level of services for our visitors and residents in the city. If we don’t find a way to fund services when we’ve had decreasing revenues, people may see a serious cut in services. That may potentially also mean employee layoffs.”

According to city records, income taxes typically bring in around $1.4 million to the city’s general fund. A 1 percent increase in income tax would potentially generate $2.8 million. The first income tax enacted in the city was legislated in the late 1970s and marked at 1 percent. With the new tax initiative, it would mean residents and individuals working in the city would pay 2 percent of their income.

City officials also cite the passing of a law by the Ohio Legislature that was previously known as House Bill 5 in late 2014 as a measure that may potentially hurt city revenues. The law changed how contracted and self-employed workers coming into the city paid taxes. Officials believe this could potentially mean the following year’s budget would lose around $100,000.

According to Gallipolis budget records, in 2010, the city had a total general fund of around $4.5 million. The fund in 2015 was around $3.3 million. That is roughly a loss of revenue around $1.1 million over a period of five years.

Commission members also passed a one-time year bonus during the meeting to full-time employees with the city. Bonuses to be handed out totaling around $11,400. Highest paid bonuses were around $200. The lowest paid bonuses were around $130. Commission members felt the bonuses appropriate for workers having made due with the difficulties of a lean year and having made certain sacrifices to conserve resources.

Commission members, as part of Gallipolis law, do not receive an income from taxpayers for their service.

According to City Manager Gene Greene, there is more “dedication than money” when it comes to city workers. He said employees often go above and beyond the call of duty when trying to provide quality services to the city.

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright

[email protected]