City voters Tuesday defeated for a third time a city income tax — this one a 1.5 percent earned income tax — that proponents said was needed to repair roads and bridges, offset cuts in state money and refurbish its parks and city buildings.
But opponents said the 7-year tax did not have enough accountability about how the money would be spent for the capital improvements.
“I think it turned on the issues we hammered on … can city hall be trusted to act in the best interests of its citizen with this pot of money?” said Dave Brown, treasurer of Tax Busters PAC, which has opposed a city income tax since the early 1980s.
“I’m very disappointed,” Mayor Vicki Giambrone said. “We still have a $200 million backlog of infrastructure projects and the loss of state funding ($2.3 million annually). We already have made cuts. We may have to make more.”
City leaders say the income tax would be more equitable to citizens by taxing those who work in the city but do not live there. In addition, passage of the income tax would trigger the elimination of three property tax levies during the coming three years.
Council member Brian Jarvis said with the tax defeat the city could not afford to let those levies lapse. “A 1-mill street levy expires at the end of the year. I would recommend we put that levy back on the ballot. That’s $1.3 million for capital street projects.”
That satisfies Brown of Tax Busters. “We’ve functioned on (property) levies for 33 years. It (the income tax) could have given more accountability by giving residents a say on the big ticket items.”
A police levy and a second street levy are set to expire over the next three years.
“I think the citizens will start to feel an impact,” Jarvis said.
Retirement income and active duty military pay would not be taxed, nor would those younger than 18 pay the tax. Brown said he heard from a number of seniors that they felt the income tax was unfair, that they did not want the tax burden shifted to young working families.
City staff estimated 75 percent of those who work in the city do not live in Beavercreek. The city estimates it loses more than $15 million each year by not taxing income of those who work in the city, but live elsewhere.
Beavercreek is one of only a handful of cities without an income tax. Unlike many cities, Beavercreek’s charter requires voter approval of an income tax. In 1984, four years after the city was incorporated, voters defeated a 1.5 percent income tax by a nearly 4 to 1 margin. Ten years later, voters said “no” to a 1 percent income tax by a similar margin.