Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Income tax going up in 2 areas

Voters in Loveland reject zoning amendment

By Liz Oakes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COMPLETE COVERAGE Special Election Coverage
Springdale and Fairfax voters raised their income taxes and Evendale residents approved letting a nonprofit foundation run a historic farm.

Loveland voters soundly defeated a zoning amendment that would have allowed commercial development in residential areas. In the 12 Loveland precincts in Hamilton County, voters rejected the measure, 57 percent to 43 percent, in unofficial returns.

Loveland's boundaries also straddle Warren and Clermont counties.

With all precincts reporting, Warren voters in Loveland turned down the amendment, 64 percent against, and Clermont voters rejected it with 65 percent voting no.

In Hamilton County, the city has 6,374 registered voters; Clermont, 1,165; and Warren, 294, according to county election officials.

In Springdale, the half-percentage-point increase in earnings tax won 69 percent to 31 percent.

Springdale officials said the city needed to raise the tax to 1.5 percent to help bridge a $2.3 million shortfall. The city last increased its income tax 32 years ago.

"I thought we did a good job of explaining it to the people," said Springdale Mayor Doyle Webster. He said street repairs were a top priority.

Fairfax residents raised income taxes a half-percentage point, 58 percent to 42 percent. Fairfax's proposal to increase its rate to 1.75 percent previously failed in November by one vote.

Officials said the village needed the money to make up $250,000 in revenue lost since 2000.

In Evendale, voters changed the village charter, 78 percent to 22 percent, to allow the nonprofit Gorman Heritage Farm Foundation to run the 100-acre city-owned farm without going through competitive bidding.

The foundation plans to reopen the farm May 8.

"I feel really wonderful," said Dorothy Gorman, 86, of Evendale, whose family donated the farm. "This has been a dream of my brother Jim and me for years."

Loveland City Council in 2002 revamped its zoning code to allow a commercial project at the historic White Pillars property.

A group of residents challenged a 2002 city decision to permit land of 5 acres or more to be zoned for business even if in a residential area.

The group, Voice of the Electorate, sued to put the issue on the ballot.

City officials maintained that the zoning amendment was needed to help attract businesses; opponents said it threatened neighborhoods.


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