Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Monroe may vote on tax credit

Signatures for Nov. ballot issue filed with City Hall

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONROE - While officials say a tax increase is needed to repair the city's damaged finances, a citizens' group is closer to getting a tax-credit charter amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Dale Cole said he delivered 452 signatures to City Hall on Monday afternoon - more than double the 214 signatures that would be needed to place the issue before voters.

The petition seeks to give residents full credit for income taxes paid to another municipality. City Council had reduced the tax credit in December as a stopgap measure to boost the city's dwindling finances - a condition blamed on mismanagement by two city officials who resigned under pressure.

The petition also seeks to prevent council from taking similar tax action in the future without citizens' input.

The petitions' delivery comes days after council heard a proposal that would increase the city's income tax from the current 1 percent to 1.5 percent if voters approve it. That ballot issue could be coupled with a repeal of council's December vote to reduce the tax credit. Council could decide on the matter at its Aug. 12 meeting, in time to meet an Aug. 19 deadline to place the issue on the ballot.

Attempts to obtain comment from Acting City Manager William Brock and Acting Financial Director Jay Stewart were unsuccessful.

Officials recently have estimated the city is facing a significant budget deficit next year - and cuts in city jobs and services are on the horizon unless more money comes in.

Cole, 61, said most residents that he knows aren't inclined to look favorably on giving the city any more money.

He thinks the citizens' group, which has been drawing about 40 people to its meetings, has struck a nerve. "I have not had anyone decline to sign the petition when asked," he said.

Even though the city has seen considerable growth in recent years, "most people still work outside of Monroe," he said. Therefore, when council cut the tax credit in December, that affected the vast majority of Monroe's working citizens, Cole said.

Cole said council is supposed to review the signatures for validity and forward the petition to the Butler County Board of Elections for placement on the ballot.


E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com

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