The upcoming November 7, 2017 ballot will soon be seen by the citizens of New Carlisle, and it will contain the initiative petition number 4 that will propose changes in how New Carlisle processes city income taxes.
This initiative was proposed by Kelli Bartlett, who reported to the Springfield Sun-News on August 16, 2017, that she is a lifelong resident of New Carlisle. And that Kelli works in Dayton and pays a 2.5% tax – as all other citizens must – and yet believes that she should not have to pay the 1.5% tax in the city where she resides.
In her research she states that Columbus gives a 100% credit to those who do not live in the city with Springfield decreasing the tax due by 50%. She obtained enough signatures (only 100+ signatures) to have a petition put on the ballot. The initiative petition was approved by the Clark County Board of Election.
The city of New Carlisle filed a protest against its inclusion, which was reviewed and promptly denied by the County Board of Election.
On the surface this all sounds good and fair. But if you research and look deeper at the facts this paints a dim picture of the quality of life and public safety in the small town of New Carlisle. Let’s take a look at the thoughts behind this petition. There are bigger cities that do give credits and can do so because they have more people who work in the city or have larger businesses that can support this credit. That is not the case in New Carlisle where the population is roughly 5,785 with approximately 90% of the citizens working outside the city.
As was brought up by a concerned citizen in the working meeting of the City Council it rests on the small population of people who work in town to make up the tax difference. Those who work outside the city would be paying money from their paychecks that they have no say so in how it is spent. The city where they work would benefit while they city in which they reside would suffer.
So what happens to New Carlisle in the future if Issue 4 is successful?
When Randy Bridges, City Manager, was interviewed, he stated that the city was expecting approximately 1.6 million in 2017. If the issue goes through, there would be a loss of approximately $984,000 to the general fund.
We are currently under a 1.5% income tax with an additional .5% going to police operations, with approximately $219,666 the remainder of $439,334 goes back into the general fund.
The other services this fund is used for is snow removal, brush and leaf pick up, grass mowing, including the added burden of cleaning vacant houses, and the city pool, city employees and paying – or not -- city employees for erecting New Carlisle holiday lighting and other seasonal favorites.
Fire and EMS are levy funded, but if equipment needs replacing, this too comes out of the general fund. Same with the water department, if there is a problem outside their budget, the money would come out of the general fund.
If there is not enough in the fund to cover these expenses, then they would come up with debt. To offset the drain on the General Fund the city would have to cut $879,500.
Some of the proposed service reductions would be removal of the limb, brush and leaf pick up. That would save approximately $4,115.20 in brush pick up and $61,488 in leaf pick up. These are important services especially to our senior population.
Other proposed cuts would be a reduction in snow removal from the current two inches to four inches. There is 20,000 dollars budgeted for salt alone, on top of services for the plowing and equipment. If the 1.5% tax is not renewed, then the general fund, based on only the income taxes of the workers in the city, who would have to fund the police department, and that is where there would be a big impact on the amount of police employees that could be supported.
Once these facts would be made public, for it will very likely attract a further, deeper criminal element to the city because of the decrease in police support.
The City Administration says if Issue 4 passes within two years we could be in Fiscal Watch. This is when the city is in debt and the State comes in and takes over.
Randy Bridge voiced that the state will come in and say ‘this is the revenue,’ ‘this is your expenses,’ ‘that this is where you need to be now,’ and this is your income tax to get there.
So in actuality with the state in charge, income taxes could increase. When interviewed, Bethel Township Trustee Chairman Nancy Brown, said that is what happened in Detroit. The state of Ohio appointed someone will come in, and New Carlisle elected officials have no say so in how to run the city.
The one objective is to balance the books not to support the citizens. The ripple effect here would be that it would be hard to draw people to live in the city or attract new business which in turn would lower property values.
There has been talk that the city could also move to unincorporate and be absorbed by Bethel township. Mr. Bridge said that would take time, not in two days or not a year from now and it would have to be voter driven. Nancy Brown does not see that happening but if it did it would be devastating on Bethel Township. They have a healthy General Fund but could not take on any debt. As a township they do not have an income tax and the state has reduced funding for their General Fund with things such as stopping the inheritance tax and tangible personal property tax … with nothing to replace it.
What is not mentioned, is that people in townships can have a higher property tax that would make up for lack of city tax. As a township they cannot do anything unless there is a State law under the Ohio revised code. Brown gave the example of the years back the EPA mandating that everyone had to send in reports and do public outreach on keeping the water and environments clean. The problem was that the Ohio Revised code did not have anything to give them the money to do it. With working with the county and the Miami Conservancy they did get it done regionally but it was difficult. A city can do anything they want unless there is a State law that says they can’t.
That can have pros and cons. A city could mandate how high the grass is but they could put laws into effect that are specifically beneficial to the individuals who live in their city. Recently this was put into practice to not take parking away in the downtown of New Carlisle to help the downtown sector to thrive.
Brown added that a couple of years back the general fund in New Carlisle ended with a balance with something like $179.00.
Current Councilman Ethan Reynolds found that the previous city manager at the time was not honest about what was on balance there in the city coffers, as there had been two years’ worth of payments on the Twin Creeks property that had not been paid back.
There was a shakeup in the council and the new members had a lot of debt and problems to clear away. Bridge reported that since he has been city manager $130,000 has been settled on the Twin Creek payback, and with refinancing the annual payment is down to 70 or 75 thousand from almost 90 thousand. The refinancing of bonds has also been done to save 130 thousand over the life of the bond. Mr. Bridges asks that Issue 4 not be voted in.
His quote is “don’t stop the progress” When the current City Administration took over, the city it was a mess and this administration has turned the place around. “Where is the pride in the city?”
He says: “I challenge the citizens to show me where the pride is!”