- Michael Cooper Staff Writer
Voters approved an income tax increase for the city of Springfield but rejected an Enon police levy on Tuesday, according to final, unofficial election results.
Springfield residents voted to raise the city’s income tax for 5½ years from 2 percent to 2.4 percent, approving it with more than 66 percent of the vote.
“This is as good as it gets,” Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said. “I really was hopeful. I thought we were going to pass, but I had no idea it would be a 2-to-1 victory. That’s just a great message that the people of Springfield have said about the future they want to have for this community. It’s heartwarming to have that happen.”
The tax will generate an additional $6.7 million annually. For a worker making $30,000 a year, it will cost an additional $10 per month. That worker’s municipal taxes would increase from about $600 to $720 annually.
The money will be used to add more police officers, fix roads and replace the cuts to state funding and to maintain current services.
“We intend to do everything we told people we were going to do,” Copeland said.
The city will also re-open both Fire Station No. 5, bringing one fire and EMS unit back into service, as well as the police substation on Johnny Lytle Avenue — both of which closed on Jan. 1 due to budget cuts.
A similar proposal was rejected by 227 votes in November.
“People saw that what we told them was going to happen happened,” Copeland said. “Again, we’d like the same thing to be true on the positive end.”
Critics of the income tax increase have said it will make the city less attractive for prospective residents and businesses and that Springfield leaders should look to instead save money by consolidating services with other local governments.
The city projects generating $38.4 million in general fund revenues this year. It also estimates spending about $39 million, leaving about a $600,000 deficit.
Springfield resident Gus Guisinger voted in favor of the proposal.
“They obviously need the money, my goodness,” he said.
As a retiree, he won’t have to pay the tax, Guisinger said, but said he paid municipal taxes to Springfield for years.
“I’m reaping the benefits for it with what we have,” he said.
Springfield resident Roger Church voted against the income tax issue. The higher tax rate will make Springfield less attractive to businesses, he said.
“It’s only going to hinder us,” Church said.
He was disappointed the city spent money on studying finances last year when it could’ve spent money on marketing the city, he said.
Enon police levy fails
The village of Enon’s 5-mill levy to restore two full-time police officers failed at the polls with about 61 percent of voters rejecting the levy, according to final, unofficial results. A similar measure failed in November.
“We’re going to have to regroup and see where we go from here,” Mayor Tim Howard. “We’re going to have to see what our options are.”
The hours will likely be filled by part-time police officers moving forward, Howard said.
The five-year tax would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home $175 a year, or about $14 a month, if it had passed.