Oregon is seeking the renewal of three levies on the November 8 ballot.
Voters are being asked to renew an existing 2 ¼ percent five-year levy on income that is needed to run the city.
The levy would provide funds for such services as the construction and maintenance of the city’s water and sewer systems, for the operation of the police and fire divisions, for capital improvements, general operating expenses, refuse pickup, capital expenditures, the municipal court, street and drainage improvements for expenses associated with economic development.
“This is the levy that the city depends on to deliver its basic services,” said Administrator Mike Beazley. “It pays for most of the cost of local government services. It’s essentially a tax on earned income. Our seniors and other retirees don’t have to pay towards that because it doesn’t tax pensions and similar income.”
The income tax rate has been 2 ¼ percent for nearly 30 years, he said.
Last year, income tax revenue was $15.9 million, said Beazley. “That’s most of the budget. We still get some money from the state, property taxes, and fees. But it is the majority of the budget.”
The income tax revenue also subsidizes water and sewer costs, he said.
“Oregon is relatively unique. We have the lowest water and sewer rates in the area. That’s one of the ways we keep those rates low by subsidizing them with our income tax,” said Beazley. “Most communities do not use tax dollars to help make sure their water and sewer lines and infrastructure are maintained. The reason Oregon chose to do that is that we are a larger city geographically than you typically find. If you take Sylvania, Maumee and Rossford combined, they’re still smaller than Oregon in terms of square miles. Oregon has a lot of miles of roads, water and sewer lines to maintain.
The city is also seeking renewal of a 0.5 mill, five-year fire levy to provide and maintain fire apparatus, appliances, buildings, and sites, and renewal of a 0.5 mill five-year recreation levy that is needed to provide and maintain recreational facilities.
“The recreation and fire levies have been the same for many decades,” said Beazley. “The city is only asking for renewals, so there will be no increases in taxes. The mayor and council have held the line on taxes. As the state cuts back on revenue it has been sharing with local communities, and as the economy has gone through tough economic times, there have been a lot of governments across the state that have increased taxes. That is not something that has happened here.”