It was a long evening at city hall as residents and students gathered for what was arguably the biggest vote of this year as city council prepared to make their decision on changing the income tax credit from 100% to 50% for those paying income tax to other municipalities.
Incomes taxes would be the main issue of the evening, with two income tax code changes of the agenda to receive votes. The first would make filing income tax with the City of Marion mandatory.
Though not the most controversial of topics, the issue did get some discussion, mostly focused on the cost of the increase filing. At-Large Councilman Jason Schaber got the conversation started by asking if the auditor's office knew how much the increased workload would cost the office.
Both Deputy Auditor Cathy Chaffin and Auditor Kelly Carr explained that the city would not see additional costs with the increased workload. Chaffin Further explained that the city would implement a few cost saving measures related to the increased filing that should, in their estimation, keep the cost from going up.
The city hopes to cash in on an increase in income tax collection by finding those who are not paying when they should. The ordinance would pass by a vote of 6-2.
The big issue of the night was the change to the income tax credit from 100% to 50% for those paying income tax to other municipalities.
Much of the discussion was the same as in weeks past, but residents and members of council all made their case on council floor one final time.
Most of those for the changes stated that it is only fair for those affected by the tax credit to pay something for the services in their community, while others said it was unfair to put the increased burden on the shoulders of a few.
Local Resident Charlie Blevins conceded that something needed to be done, but as he has in previous meetings spoke against placing the burden on a few. Blevins went on to say that there needs to be a fair tax that all residents pay and this measure was not the answer.
83rd District State Representative Dorothy Pelanda (R) was also in attendance during the meeting Monday evening and told council and those in attendance she and several other lawmakers in Columbus are looking at ways to help, one being a way to make collection uniform across the state. Rep. Pelanda also noted that she would work with the city in finding other funding sources to help alleviate the problems with cuts to local government funding
At-Large Councilman Josh Daniels took a different approach saying that this move will not bring back all the safety forces laid off and it may hinder and attempt at an income tax increase in the future, if the city would go to the voters.
City Police chief Tom Bell warned City Council that something needs to be done now and that the city is "circling the drain." Bell also agreed with Daniels that the change to the tax credit would not fix the problem, but said it was a step toward a solution for the city's budget.
6th Ward Councilman Dale Osborn, who favored the move, suggested that there be a sunset clause add the the legislation to end the legislation after one year. The ordinance was not amended at the advice of City Law Director Mark Russell. Osborn did state in Monday night's meeting that he would come back in a year and put forward legislation to repeal the ordinance if it was necessary.
The ordinance did pass 5-3. The change to the tax credit with take effect within 30 days after being signed by the Mayor.
City Council also passed ordinances to make Council Street One-Way westbound, enter into contract with Helms and Sons for the May street sewer improvement project and a resolution supporting fair housing.