Thursday, October 7, 2004

Mt. Healthy to explain tax

Meetings to address need for increasing city revenues

By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer

MOUNT HEALTHY - This Hamilton County city is holding a series of town meetings beginning next week to discuss a proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot to raise income taxes from 1.5 percent to 2 percent and limit the credit for tax paid to other cities.

Mount Healthy currently offers full credit for income tax paid to other cities; that would change to a 1.5 percent credit, Kocher said.

The additional tax, if approved by voters, would help boost police pay, repair streets, improve parks and address housing and economic development concerns, according to city officials.

The city also proposes to lower property taxes by the end of the year, said Safety-Service Director Bill Kocher.

"If the levy passes, our intent is to roll back 2 mills of property taxes for residents," he said.

In August, Mount Healthy voters approved a five-year, 5-mill safety levy to add part-time firefighters to cover round-the-clock shifts.

In the past year, the city has been forced to lay off employees and cut back on recreation programs because of budget problems.

Some residents said they thought increasing the income tax, last raised 26 years ago, made sense, even if it costs them more.

"It just seems to me a lot of little cities, including Mount Healthy, are having problems," Paula Kutcher, 42, said. "I still would probably vote for it. From my perception, they are a doing a pretty good job spending the money that they have."

Others disagreed.

"I don't think it's a good idea, because I'm like anybody, "I think people spend too much money until you force them not to," said Kurt Kube, 56.

Mount Healthy estimates that the tax increase would raise about $550,000 annually, but with the loss of income from the rollback, the city would net $350,000 to $400,000, Kocher said.

Close to 30 percent of the city's approximately 7,000 residents live on fixed incomes, the safety-service director said.

"It will be obviously a loss of income for the city ... (but) we're trying to balance our tax burden on our residents," he said.

If you go

The town-hall meetings will be in Council chambers, City Hall, 7700 Perry St.

The dates and times are:

• Tuesday, 7 p.m.

• Oct. 19, 6 p.m.

• Oct. 26, 7 p.m.

• Oct. 31, 2 p.m.

For more information, call (513) 931-8840.



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