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City payroll tax increase slated for fall’s ballot

City residents will make their decision in the ballot box this November whether to pass legislation that will increase the city’s payroll tax.

Thursday, August 16, 2001

City residents will make their decision in the ballot box this November whether to pass legislation that will increase the city’s payroll tax.

Council passed legislation at last night’s meeting that will place the proposed 0.45 increase in the city’s payroll tax on the ballot.

If passed, the legislation will up the payroll tax from 1 percent to 1.45 percent for a three-year period. Mayor Bob Cleary said it is important for citizens to note the legislation expires after three years. He said the three-year period gives the city time to "get back on our feet."

"Now, we go to work," Cleary said after the ballot item was approved. He said his administration, with the help of a committee he is organizing to work on the public education aspect of the proposed law, will go to work presenting information to city residents on why the legislation is needed.

He said the legislation is needed to provide the city with income lost to business shutdowns that has plagued Ironton since 1999.

Cleary said he plans to organize community town hall-style meetings so members of the public can learn firsthand why the income tax increase is needed and how the city’s budget has been affected by the downturn in the city’s economy.

City officials said Ironton’s general fund account, the budget fund that pays salaries and benefits, capital improvements, and other items have taken a major hit from the loss of businesses inside the city limits.

Six businesses have left the city since 1999: Cabletron Systems, Allied Signal, and Ashland Oil pulled out of the city in 1999; Matlack and Ironton Iron left in 2000 and River Valley Heath Systems closed its doors this winter. The loss of these businesses has left a $800,000 gap in the city’s finances.

Cleary said the meetings will provide an opportunity for community members to ask questions and get the "whole picture" of the city’s financial status.

The legislation will be presented to the county’s Board of Elections today.