Voters to decide on big change to New Carlisle taxes

Supporter says the current tax system is unfair, city says changes could devastate its finances and lead to big cuts.

The Clark County Board of Elections approved a ballot petition Thursday to allow voters to decide whether New Carlisle should be required to change how it collects income taxes after the city tried to block it from making the ballot.

Ohio residents pay income taxes both in the city where they work and where they live. Some cities give their residents credit if they work elsewhere but New Carlisle doesn’t. Springfield gives residents a 50 percent credit and Columbus gives a 100 percent credit.

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New Carlisle resident Kelli Bartlett believes she’s unfairly taxed twice and gathered signatures to put the issue on the November ballot to force the city to provide a tax credit if voters approved it.

“(It’s about) whether New Carlisle residents should receive an income tax credit for taxes paid to another city such as where we work,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett pays a 2.5 percent income tax in Dayton and she believes it’s not right that she must pay an extra 1.5 percent to New Carlisle because she lives there but doesn’t work there.

City leaders have said the issue would be devastating and filed a protest against the petitions with the board of elections on Aug. 21.

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The city argued the petitions didn’t follow Ohio Revised Code.

“Basically they were arguing that the petition papers around were not the prescribed form by the Secretary of State’s office,” said Jason Baker, director of the Clark County Board of Elections.

The elections board decided Thursday against the city’s protest, allowing the ballot initiative to stand. It will be on the November ballot if the city decides not to take further action against it, Baker said.

“There can always be an objection about the board’s ruling today and we will wait and see if it happens,” Baker said.

If the city of New Carlisle decided to protest again, it would be made to the Second District Court of Appeals.

New Carlisle City Manager Randy Bridge attended the hearing Thursday but he declined to comment on legal advice. He said he will talk about the board’s decision once it’s discussed with other city leaders.

About 60 percent of the city’s income tax revenue comes from residents who work outside New Carlisle, according to public records. If the city can no longer collect from them, Bridge has said it faces severe cuts and could even lead to the city dissolving.

If voters approved the ballot issue, in November, City Council Member Ethan Reynolds has said the city likely would have to raise taxes to stabilize itself or many essential city services would be cut.

“We could lose up to maybe right around $1 million, $750,000 to $1 million dollars to the budget,” Reynolds has said. “So that means no pool, no police, nothing.”

Bartlett doesn’t believe New Carlisle would disappear if the tax change passed.

“I’ve lived there my entire life,” she said. “New Carlisle will still exist, just maybe not as a municipality.”

Complete coverage

The Springfield News-Sun finds out what’s really going on with your tax dollars in Clark and Champaign counties, including recent stories on government payrolls and local school construction projects.

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