Friday, August 04, 2000

Reading hikes property tax rate

Mayor says it's needed for capital projects

By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        READING — A lack of funding for badly needed capital improvements influenced a recent City Council decision to restore property taxes rolled back in 1995.

        The measure, approved by members of both political parties, will not be effective until 2001, said Mayor Earl Schmidt. The mayor said the proposal was advanced by Councilman Tony Gertz.

        Five years ago, when the city's operating revenues were more than adequate, council rolled back the tax rate from 3.5 mills to 1.76 mills. Council's action re stores the tax rate to 3.5 mills. It does not require voter approval.

        “Restoration of the millage will bring in about $300,000 additional annually. The ordinance contains a stipulation, however, that the money may only be used for capital improvements,” said Mr. Schmidt, a Demo crat.

        Republican Councilman Gertz could not be reached for comment.

        “We are in dire need of money for capital improvements. There are so many that need to be done,” the mayor said. An analysis of projected capital improve ment needs totals $1.67 million.

        “We need to buy property and create off-street parking on Benson Street and Reading Road” — a targeted urban renewal area, Mr. Schmidt said.

        “We need to make improvements at the municipal building including a new phone system. We have been lax in our street maintenance program because of a lack of funding. Safety services need equipment replaced and our recreation facilities — parks, playgrounds and the Haffey Field House — need improvements,” Mr. Schmidt said.

        There was no public opposition to the move, which council presented at three meetings, the mayor said.

        At the reinstated millage, the owner of a $100,000 home will pay about $60 more a year.


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