Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Mason tables tax credit vote

Council decides it needs more information

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

MASON - Voters here won't get to decide an earnings tax credit issue on the March primary ballot.

On Monday, City Council considered putting a charter amendment before voters that would give full credit to residents who work outside the city and pay earnings tax to another community. But council members decided they didn't have enough information about how much money would be lost by the implementation of such a credit.

The issue will go to the city Finance Committee for review.

City Manager Scot Lahrmer said the issue was studied three years ago, and the best estimate was a loss to the city of $600,000 to $750,000 a year. He later admitted having little confidence in those numbers, acknowledging that they could be significantly more or less.

Councilman Tom Grossmann brought the issue before council last month. He said the city's earnings tax revenue has increased in the last five years by 55 percent. The city will take in tax revenues of more than $14 million this year.

Several former council members spoke against the full credit.

Don Mollman, a 44-year resident, signed the original ordinance establishing the income tax in the early 1970s when he was mayor of Mason.

"The council that passed that ordinance did so after quite a considerable debate," Mollman said.

"We passed it on the basis that we wanted to give Mason the tools that it needed for the growth that we could see."

Mason residents who work outside the city and pay earnings tax to another city now receive a half-percent credit.

• In other action, council rezoned about 88 acres Monday to office/commercial planned unit development on the Tennis for Charity property, which runs along Interstate 71 and surrounds the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

The zoning change allows for office/retail development, but officials with Tennis for Charity said there are no immediate plans to develop the property.

Councilman John McCurley said the purpose is to protect the city if the tennis center ever left. The property's zoning had allowed for multifamily units.

The plan was approved with three contingencies, including allowing an indefinite period of time for the owner to come before council with a final plan.

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