City Council has tabled a resolution that would have let voters decide in November whether to eliminate a .15 percent recreation levy when the city’s debt services of $23.8 million have been repaid.
“I think the best course of action at this point is not to place this on the November ballot, and instead proceed with legislative action,” said council member Andrew Brush at Monday’s City Council meeting. Brush had initially proposed a voter referendum to ensure that future council members do not borrow against the income tax.
“My recommendation is that we have an ordinance with essentially the same text that we’re proposing,” said Brush, who chairs the city’s finance committee.
The ordinance is expected to come back to council in August.
Voters approved the income tax increase for recreation in 2008, which went toward building the Delaware Community Center YMCA. Since 2009, the recreation portion of the city’s income tax has raised $8.8 million, with $1.7 million raised in 2014.
“By design, the levy did not contain specific language on the number of years or total collection amounts,” said Lee Yoakum, community affairs coordinator for the city. “This was because income tax projections often fluctuate. As of 2014, if income tax collections stay consistent, we would be able to pay off the bond in 2028.”
City staff recommended simply changing the legislation instead of going before voters. In its report, staff said placing an issue on the ballot costs between $11,500 and $16,300; the wording of the issue could be confusing to voters; a future council could overturn whatever the voters decide; and council can adopt the ordinance with the same legal impact.
The legislation council acted on was worded by bond counsel. The original text is: “Resolution No. 15-30, a resolution declaring the necessity of an election on the question of approving the passage of an ordinance to amend sections 191.03 and 191.14 of the codified ordinances of the city of Delaware, Ohio, to provide for the continuation of an existing fifteen one-hundredths of one percent (0.15 percent) levy on income by the city for the purpose of improving recreation facilities and paying the debt service charges of securities issued for that purpose, but limiting the final calendar year in which the tax will be levied to the calendar year in which the debt service charges on securities issued pursuant to such authority and outstanding as of June 1, 2015, including and securities hereafter issued to refund those securities, have been fully paid or provided for.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.