Springfield commission to vote to go back on ballot with tax increase

Springfield city commissioners will likely vote whether to place an income tax increase back on the ballot this spring, just months after a similar proposal was rejected at the polls.

City staff members have recommended commissioners approve placing a 5½-year income tax increase on the May 2 primary ballot. The income tax rate in Springfield would increase from 2 percent to 2.4 percent, if voters approved it.

Springfield City Commission is expected to vote on the proposal at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the City Hall Forum, 76 E. High St. A similar proposal was rejected by just 227 votes in November.

Last month, a divided Springfield City Commission passed its budget for next year, which included $800,000 in cuts to the municipal court, parks and police and firefighters overtime.

The city is projected to generate $38.4 million in general fund revenues next year. However, the city is estimating about $39 million in spending, leaving about a $600,000 deficit next year.

If approved, the tax would generate an additional $6.7 million annually through 2022. For a worker making $30,000 a year, the tax would cost an additional $10 per month. It would also allow the city to reopen both Fire Station No. 5 and the police substation on Johnny Lytle Avenue, both of which closed on Jan. 1.

An additional $2 million would go toward a street improvement fund. The rest would pay for a Safe Streets Task Force, a special police unit to combat violent crime and heroin abuse. More permanent improvement money will also allow the city to update its aging police and fire fleet.

Unofficial results from Election Night showed the income tax issue failed by just 55 votes. But the Clark County Board of Elections declared 717 provisional ballots cast by city residents should be counted. After those were counted on Nov. 22, the final, official results showed the tax increase was defeated by 227 votes.

During the election, city leaders said up to 10 civilian workers at the police division could be laid off and replaced by removing officers from the streets if the levy failed. It also said it would lay off up to 25 non-union employees, many of whom work at City Hall, without more tax revenue. The city may begin reducing staff in March, leaders said last month.

In-depth coverage

The Springfield News-Sun provides complete coverage of government spending, including extensive coverage of cuts being made to the city’s general fund budget.

By the numbers

$6.7 million: Revenue the tax would raise per year if approved by voters

2 percent: Current income tax rate

2.4 percent: Proposed income tax rate

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