Saturday, April 18, 2015

Johnstown council might vote to abolish income-tax credit

By DEBBIE GILLUM
Monday April 13, 2015 12:28 PM

Johnstown Village Council on April 21 is expected to decide whether to eliminate the village's income-tax credit for residents who pay income taxes to another municipality.

Johnstown's tax rate is 1 percent for all residents who live and work in Johnstown. The rate is 0.5 percent for residents who work in and pay taxes to another municipality, according to village finance director Dana Steffan.

If council approves, the credit elimination could take effect as soon as May 21 and generate an estimated $123,500 to the village in 2015, according to information from the Regional Income Tax Agency. According to RITA's figures for 2016 and beyond, the elimination would bring in an estimated $247,500 annually.

Village Manager Jim Lenner said the increase in revenue would be used for such projects as the Raccoon Creek pedestrian bridge, which was approved April 1 at a cost of $380,000 to the village.

Steffan said she wasn't sure how many residents would be affected by the credit elimination but that she's working with RITA to get more information.

Charter municipalities determine the manner in which income taxes and credits may be changed. In many municipalities, residents vote on changes. In others, councils decide.

Johnstown's charter doesn't specifically spell out council's authority to adjust or rescind a tax credit, Steffan said, but it doesn't state a vote of residents is required either.

"We have discussed the matter with our legal counsel, and we are certain to follow the letter of the law in all matters," she said.

Johnstown's tax rate is one of the lowest the area, she said.

For comparison, Granville's tax rate is 1.5 percent, with a 75-percent credit on income taxes paid to another municipality.

A public hearing regarding Johnstown's ordinance was held April 7, and no residents spoke about the issue.

Council's April 21 meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in council chambers, 599 S. Main St.