Delaware officials will determine their next course of action after voters rejected an increase in the income tax by wide margins to address its local infrastructure issues.
According to final unofficial results from the Delaware County Board of Elections, 60.37 percent voted against raising the income tax to 2 percent from 1.85 percent. The additional 0.15-increase would have been used solely for maintenance of existing roads and transportation improvement projects.
“The need doesn’t go away,” said City Manager Tom Homan.
Since May, Homan has gone out to different parts of the community to explain the need for the Moving Delaware Forward initiative. The residents he talked seemed to indicate they understood that local road conditions needed to be addressed. Not so much for the city’s proposed approach.
“We may have not been communicating as clearly,” he said.
Homan was surprised by the nearly 3,500-margin of votes between supporters and opponents of the levy. He said it was unclear whether this year’s historic presidential election played a role in the outcome.
Opposition to the levy was community wide as two out of 27 precincts in the city voted for the tax increase. Both precincts were located in the third ward. Nearly 945 people did not vote on the issue.
“It’s not easy to pass a tax levy,” Homan said.
City Council and staff, he said, will need to re-assess and have conversations with the community in whatever shape or form they take for neighborhoods that do and do not have a homeowners association. Going to voters again in the future will be part of that conversation, he said.
The question of “how do we address the need as a community” requires an answer, Homan said.
On the other hand, Mike West of Chatham Lane, who actively campaigned against the levy, expressed his gratitude to the community.
“We’ve all learned a lot more about road repair and improvement and this process,” he said in prepared remarks. “There has been a lot of good that has come from this experience. We hope the city is open to conversation about a levy the citizens feel is passable.”
Meanwhile, the city’s 34 charter amendments passed with 73.95 percent of the vote.
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.