Income tax levy 1 step closer

Tiffin City Council moved closer to approving a ballot initiative Monday afternoon that would increase income taxes for residents.

The group met Monday afternoon for a second special council meeting in as many weeks to hear the second reading of legislation that would put a five-year, 0.25-percent income tax levy on the Nov. 7 ballot. Revenue from the levy would be earmarked for road and bridge maintenance.

Law Director Brent Howard said last week the special meetings were held so the legislation could be read three times and considered by council before the Aug. 9 deadline for ballot initiatives. The legislation will be read a third time and voted on during the Monday meeting.

Mayor Aaron Montz said last month the increase is being proposed because the city lacks funding to keep roads and bridges in good condition. If the levy is approved, the city’s income tax rate would be 2 percent, the same as Bucyrus and Mansfield. 

Tax Commissioner Linda Neeley said based on 2016 figures, the increase would raise an additional $1,310,825, an amount city officials hope is enough to get the city’s roads and bridges back in acceptable condition.

Assistant Engineer Matt Watson said after the city has roads in better condition, it can begin to use other maintenance tactics to save money.

“We’re too far in a hole (right now), we have to get caught up,” he said.

Montz said if the tax is not approved by residents and the city continues to fund road and bridge maintenance at the same levels, a road that was paved this summer, won’t be paved again for 40 years.

“This gives voters the opportunity to determine the future of what condition their streets are in,” he said. “If approved, we would see our street paving budget go from $300,000-$400,000 to over $1 million (annually).”

In other business, council received:

• A donation of $1,000 from NAMI of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties to be used to send police officers to crisis intervention training.

• A $225 donation from Tiffin Moose Lodge No. 846 to be used for city parks.

• A $25 donation from Zak Zender to be used for city parks.