Beavercreek is one of only three cities in Ohio without an income tax. However, this could change after voters go to the polls on May 3. In nearly 40 years, this is the fifth time the controversial tax issue has been on the ballot.
Opponents claim it’s taxation without representation – while supporters argue the money will fund vital city services. In Ohio, there are two primary ways a city generates revenue: property taxes or an income tax.
Most opt for the income tax. But Beavercreek’s City Charter requires property owners’ fund all city services by way of property tax levies.
Dave Brown is the treasurer of Tax Busters. It is a political action committee formed in May 1984 in response to the first time a one percent income tax was proposed by the Beavercreek city council. He said that he likes that Beavercreek funds city services with levies.
“Levies are voted on and must be for a specific purpose and amount,” Brown said. “So the citizens have control over how much is spent and what it’s used for and that’s not true with income taxes.”
On the other hand, Beavercreek City Manager Pete Landrum said using only property taxes to run a city of almost fifty thousand is not sustainable, especially with the current rate of inflation.
“You have the increase in health insurance, you have union contract increases, you have vehicles costing more, gas costing more,” Landrum said. “You see how easily that outpaces the property tax growth.”
Residents who would be affected if the income tax is approved Tuesday include roughly 23,000 people who work in Beavercreek but live elsewhere. Landrum said the city has a $200 million backlog of infrastructure needs not covered by property taxes, including repairing roads used by people working and shopping in the city.
“We just got the price of asphalt and the costs of everything just went up 25% from last year,” he said. “So we go from trying to do 12 to 13 miles of repaving this year to maybe six.”
Landrum also said the city has no funding for sidewalks and stormwater projects. In the first year, the income tax would generate about $12 million dollars. Once in full swing, it’s expected to jump to about $18 million dollars a year.
He said the measure would also enable the city to add police officers, city staff and to purchase essential equipment. In addition, it would cut taxes for all city property owners because five existing levies would expire.
“That would save an average homeowner one hundred and thirty four dollars per hundred thousand of the value of their home,” Landrum said.
But Brown with the Tax Busters committee said that for some, the savings from the expired levies won’t offset a smaller paycheck.
“Income taxes go up whenever your wages go up and you can have multiple family members in a household that are all paying an income tax,” he said. “Whereas a levy-you only get charged once per household.”
He also said an income tax would be unfair since it will affect teenagers under eighteen who can’t vote.
“A lot of students work at Kroger, Deals Landscaping, Mike’s Carwash or at the two malls that we have and any income they make over a thousand dollars will be taxed by this income tax,” Brown said.
City manager Landrum said that about six years ago Ohio Lawmakers removed the tax exemption for workers under age 18.
“Take that up with your state legislators because there’s nothing we can do about that,” he said.
Incomes not touched by the income tax would include: unemployment, pension, social security, military pay, and child support. Brown is retired making his income exempt. But he said he still worries about younger families
“I don’t want to pass my tax burden onto them or to my former coworkers at the base.”
Landrum said he maintains the income tax will be an investment in those young families and in Beavercreek’s future.
“A little bit of investment now to maintain the health of the city, to maintain our infrastructure, to add a little bit of additional services as we need is so much more cost effective,” he said.
If approved, Beavercreek’s city income tax goes into effect this coming January.