Canton Repository

GateHouse Media Ohio

NORTH CANTON: City Council moved on a resolution Monday to seek a 10-year, 0.5 percent income tax increase.

The tax issue — revenue for safety forces — would need voter approval.

The action taken Monday was procedural, adopting the first of three readings on the legislation. After three readings, council members can vote on the resolution to put income tax on the November ballot.

Council will hold a second reading July 9 when residents can voice their opinion. The third reading is July 23.

If voters approve, the city’s income tax rate would increase from 1.5 percent to 2 percent starting Jan. 1. It would expire no later than Dec. 31, 2028.

The extra funds would be used solely for the city’s police, fire and EMS departments. The city plans to build a new central safety service center to house all three departments. It also would create a fund to cover future building maintenance. And it could use additional money for training opportunities or to purchase new equipment.

Council has debated the legislation at its last two meetings.

Before voting, Council struck language from the legislation that said funds could be used for staffing.

Councilman Dominic Fonte was the sole no vote.

The safety service building is a great idea, he said. “I just still want to see if it’s possible to reduce it to seven years. I wasn’t crystal clear on the answers yet. So once I get the answers and I feel good about them, I’ll be yay. But for right now, it’s a nay.”

The increase is projected to generate about $2 million a year, but could generate more. If the bond for the building is paid off early, council could move to recall the increase before the 10 years is up, Finance Director Laura Brown said.

Only those who work in North Canton, including residents and those who live in the city but work in a township, would pay the increased tax. Someone earning $50,000 per year would pay an additional $250 a year or about $4.80 per week in income tax.

Those who work in another city with an income tax of 2 percent or higher would see no increase.

Council could decide separately to alter or eliminate the income tax credit for residents who work outside of North Canton, Brown said.

Brown has been answering questions about the proposal through a FAQ on the city’s website and Facebook page.

Council Vice President Doug Foltz asked for clarification on where the new center would be built. The city needs to ensure that it won’t impact neighborhoods or take away green space, he said.

The city is considering locations on Main Street, not any side streets, but doesn’t want to give specifics to ensure the city gets a fair price for any land it might purchase, Director of Administration Patrick DeOrio said.

At past meetings, city officials have said the new center could be built at the current site of fire station one on Main Street.

The city has discussed the need for a combined safety center for 20 years. The time is right, said Councilman Daryl Revoldt. “I’m pretty confident in our administrative team that we can execute this project on budget, on time. And that is not an insignificant consideration in my mind.”

The city has invested in other areas, now it’s the police and fire departments time, Foltz said.

“We all need to be good stewards of the public. And I think we’re doing that when we’re looking at 40 years of our police and fire department,” he said. “What are we going to do? Are we going to stand back and try to make it work? Or are we going to be responsible” and have a plan for the future of our city.