Dayton voters will be asked to renew a .5 percent increase to the city’s income tax on Tuesday’s primary ballot.
Dayton’s income tax is currently 2.25 percent, but the permanent rate is 1.75 percent—the last half a percent has always been temporary. Voters have renewed it overwhelmingly four times since it was first passed in 1984.
City officials hope to cut the costs of bringing the tax to a vote in the future by asking voters to pass the increase with no time limit.
“All the money is coming from the people at the bottom, to keep the city going,” says Marianne Stanley, who recently moved from Dayton to Texas. She spoke out against the tax in an April column in the Dayton City Paper. She says people just can’t afford new taxes, and she worries that the city will be less accountable for their actions if they don’t have to ask voters for a renewal.
Issue 6 caused a stir in April over accusations that a mailing from the mayor’s office didn’t explain the ballot initiative well and may have been deceptive. Former Mayor Gary Leitzell went before the city commission in April to express his concerns about the flier; he was defeated by current Mayor Nan Whaley in the November 2013 election.
Mayor Whaley’s office says the half percent tax accounts for $22 million in revenues for police and fire protection, street maintenance, and parks and recreation, among other things.
Unlike property tax levies, which are paid by anyone with property in city limits, this tax comes out of income and business profits earned within city limits. Residents are also expected to pay the tax, but if you live in Dayton and pay an equivalent income tax elsewhere, the Dayton tax is waived in that amount.*
Issue 6 has been endorsed by the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, AFSCME DPSU Local 101, IAFF Local 136, Captain John C. Post FOP Lodge 44, AFSCME Ohio Council 8 and the Dayton Miami Valley AFL-CIO Labor Council.
The Dayton Daily News has listings of all the candidates and ballot issues up for the May 6, 2014 primary.
*CORRECTION: A previous version of this story online and on air stated that Dayton residents who work elsewhere aren't liable for Dayton's income tax. That is incorrect. Residents are excepted from the tax only to the extent that they pay an equivalent income tax in another municipality. If you work elsewhere, but there's no municipal income tax there, you will still owe taxes in Dayton.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.