Council considers repealing reciprocity provision

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Many Ironton residents working outside the city may soon be paying a little more in their income taxes.

The Ironton City Council is considering an ordinance that would repeal income tax credit for tax paid to other governments.

If passed, the ordinance would mean all residents would pay 1 percent of their income to the city, regardless of employment outside the city limits.

Email newsletter signup

The council heard the first reading of the ordinance at its regular meeting Monday night.

The ordinance will need to be read at two meetings in January before it is voted on, unless council opts to try to pass it as an emergency measure.

Under the current structure, those Ironton residents who work in other municipalities with an income tax are only required to pay half the city’s 1-percent income tax. In 2004, the council passed this 50 percent reciprocity provision.

Before that, the city had a long-standing 100 percent reciprocity agreement that meant that those residents who worked in other municipalities that had a tax equal or higher to 1 percent did not have to pay Ironton’s tax at all because they were paying elsewhere.

The meeting started with opposition as former Ironton mayor and former councilman Jim Tordiff addressed council about the ordinance. He said the measure is almost unheard of in other cities.

It is very uncommon, Tordiff said, to make a person pay the full tax both in the city they live in and where they work.

“I’m not trying to be argumentative,” he said. “I know that there’s two sides to this issue. I’m just thinking, ‘do we really want to do something that’s peculiar to the others?’”

Instead of no reciprocity, Tordiff suggested that the council consider a police fee, because the police department is the biggest department of the city.

The city could also consider raising the $8 per month city municipal fee, Tordiff said.

City Finance Department Director Kristen Martin said the ordinance would generate approximately $500,000 if it passes.

Council chairman Kevin Waldo argued that those people who currently pay only a half percent still need full city services such as the fire department and police.

“If their house was burning, we’ve got to send the whole fire (department),” Waldo said.

Waldo and councilman Frank Murphy sponsored the ordinance.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said the city will have to work with whatever budget the council passes.

“What I have to do is live by the budget that is passed by the city council, and that’s my intentions,” Blankenship explained after the meeting. “They came up with this, it’s not Rich Blankenship saying ‘Hey, why don’t we do this.’

“My job as the mayor is to live by the budget that is given to me by the city council members, and that’s what I do.”

Blankenship suggested that the budget committee may be able to come up with other solutions to the budget problems.

“This gives us an opportunity to continue to work on the budget, as the finance committee will, and members of council,” he said, adding that the city budget committee has had four meetings since the start of October.

“We’re trying to do our best to continue services for the city,” Blankenship said. “I think our future looks bright. I’m confident in our future but we still need to provide the basic services to every resident.”

City departments cannot afford any cuts to personnel, Blankenship said,

“They’re working on a skeleton crew on all levels, fire, police and streets,” he said, adding that when he took over as mayor two years ago, he intentionally did not fill three positions.

The lack of personnel prevents the city from completing several projects that it would otherwise do, Blankenship said.

In other business, the Ironton City Council also:

Heard the first reading of an ordinance reestablishing the city’s municipal fee at $8.00 per month per residential household

Passed an ordinance allowing the city to adopt a temporary operating budget for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2010. The budget will get the city through the first few months of 2010, so that it then can determine the budget for the remainder of the year.

Passed an ordinance authorizing the mayor to execute a quit claim deed for Memorial Hall to the Ironton Port Authority. If the Port Authority approves the deed, it plans to then deed the property to the American Legion, provided the Legion has the funds to pay for repairs of the property.

Heard the second reading of an ordinance that would allow Blankenship to purchase new dumpsters for the city.