The margin was tighter than other city levies in recent past, but voters approved a 3.75-mill continuing property tax increase, the first for city government services since 1991, according to unofficial Tuesday election results.
The levy will generate $1.07 million annually and cost the owner of a $200,000 home $230 a year starting in 2014.
“I would say it means that our residents have voted to keep Oakwood the premiere residential community in the Miami Valley,” Mayor Bill Duncan said.
In comparison, a 2011 city property tax renewal was approved by more than 70 percent.
When early counts on Tuesday night showed that only 47 absentee ballots had been cast, with a mere five-vote approval margin, “I was very concerned about what a low turnout might mean,” said Duncan.
Before polls opened, Duncan said, “I believe it’s going to pass handily. We’ve had no organized opposition. People throughout the city have told us they appreciate the services we deliver and they are willing to pay a bit more to keep them.”
He praised the efforts of citizen budget review and levy campaign committees in getting out the positive vote.
Oakwood’s 2.5 percent income tax rate is the region’s and one of the state’s highest.
The added property tax, which will be collected beginning in 2014, will raise total effective mills paid by city property owners to 92.72, third highest among almost 50 communities in the region. Almost 70 percent of that that currently goes for the city schools.
A Dayton Daily News analysis in March found that Oakwood residents already shoulder the heaviest combined property and income tax burden in the Dayton area.
City manager Norbert Klopsch said that was misleading because Oakwood collects just 52 percent of the income taxes its residents pay. Most of them work in other cities and pay those municipalities’ payroll taxes.
Only 9 percent of the city’s income tax revenue comes from residents who work in the city.
If the levy had failed, Duncan said, “City Council would either have to immediately figure out where to start cutting essential services, or find a new revenue source. There would be no other choices.”
Even with the new revenue, another state budget cut may be looming in the form of a proposed local income tax reform bill that has been introduced in the Ohio House.
Duncan, who testified against House Bill 5 before the body’s Ways and Means Committee last week, said if it’s passed as written, Oakwood will lose another $435,000 a year. The city’s general fund was hammered to the tune of $2.6 million a year when the Ohio estate tax was ended this year.
City officials have not ruled out a council vote next year on whether to reduce the current 100 percent credit residents receive for income taxes paid to other cities.