Northwood’s Finance Committee discussed the possibility of placing a 0.25 percent income tax hike on the ballot to stem the continuing loss of revenue.
“We talked about a 0.25 percent increase for five years, and possibly put that on the ballot in November,” Councilman Mike Myers said at a council meeting March 11.
The committee also discussed reducing to 50 percent the 100 percent tax credit for residents who work outside the city, he said.
“If the .25 percent passed, that would go away,” said Myers.
Other possibilities included a 10 percent pay cut for the mayor and city council, 3 percent pay cuts for non-union employees, and an adjustment of revenue allocated to the budget, said Myers. Currently, 70 percent of revenue goes into the general budget, 20 percent into capital improvements, and 10 percent for capital repairs. The proposed adjustment would allocate 80 percent of the revenue to the general budget, and 20 percent into capital improvements.
“That would give us a saving of $S720,342 and a carryover of $220,000,” said Myers.
Mayor Mark Stoner told council that the city’s income tax revenues dropped again in March as they did in the first two months of this year.
“Income tax collection for the year to date is $573,736, which is a decrease of $102,261, or 15.9 percent over the same period of 2009,” said Stoner. If income tax collections are down 15 percent by the end of this year, the city would have to cut $697,458 in expenditures from the budget, with $488,221 from the general fund, he said.
The city has also considered charging a refuse and recycling fee to residents. Currently, the city charges a solid waste disposal fee and a host fee from Evergreen Recycling and Disposal Facility for use of a landfill at 2625 East Broadway. The company automatically deducts a monthly charge for unlimited garbage pickup, which is free to Northwood residents.
Last fall, the city cut over $600,000 in expenses, with few departments spared the budget ax. Among the cuts: 10.3 percent from the police department; 10.7 percent from fire; 14.1 percent from dispatch; 15.1 percent from the baseball program; 37.1 percent from the zoning department; 24.1 percent from the streets department, 29.1 percent from the mayor’s office, 15.1 percent from the finance department, 30.6 percent from the city administrator; and 13.8 percent from the court.
Personnel cuts included one full-time police officer, animal control officer, a court employee, and secretary, a traffic camera operator, one crossing guard, and two streets department employees. Other positions, such as dispatcher, zoning assistant, and tax compliant auditor, were not filled due to attrition.
Peggy Barton told council she was opposed to tax increases “of any kind.”
“I don’t want to see us adding a Northwood income tax to those who currently pay taxes in another locality, and I don’t want to see us increase the existing Northwood income tax,” said Barton. “Frankly, I’m disappointed that the first thought when facing deficits is to increase taxes. The first thought should be, `How can we reduce our expenses?’ I ask that salaries be looked at, that the number of employees be looked at, supply costs be looked at, contracted services of every kind be considered, retirement contributions be looked at, and also health care expenses. Increase in taxes just destroys any potential for economic recovery.”
Barton said she recently increased her federal and state tax withholding because she no longer can claim child tax credits for dependent children.
“What that means to Northwood is that I have less money to purchase services in Northwood. It means about 100 visits per year to Bob Evans, 30 visits to Andersons per year, or any other retail business,” said Barton. “What that means to Northwood is that these companies, restaurants or other businesses, will reduce their staff because people like me won’t be coming in there very much anymore, and that means Northwood now will get less income tax that’s collected from those employees and businesses. I don’t know about you, but I like to eat out once in a while.”
Also at the meeting, council:
• Gave a second reading to an agreement with Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., for continued operation of the city’s automated photo speed and photo red light cameras at the intersection of Woodville and Lemoyne roads and the intersection of Oregon and Wales roads. Councilman Myers said 8.8 million vehicles go through the Woodville and Lemoyne intersection, and 6 million vehicles go through the Oregon and Wales intersection per year. Myers said he was sorry to see the speed van, a mobile vehicle that issued citations to motorists for speeding, discontinued last year, saying it was a deterrent to speeders. “On Curtice Road, where we took the van out, there was a 20-25 mph increase in speed. It was a good tool for the police department. I hate to see it go away,” he said.