DELAWARE, Ohio — The city of Delaware is seeking input on the final draft findings of the Delaware Financial Review Task Force.
A key finding of the task force recommends increasing the city’s income tax rate by nearly 22% of its current rate.
The task force, which was formed on March 14, 2022, was made up of nine members of the Delaware community who volunteered and were appointed to serve on the task force. The task force was asked to conduct a high-level review of the city’s current financial status and overall outlook, exploring cost-containment measures, assessing existing City of Delaware service levels, and assessing the status of transportation and other capital investments made to date, and the outlook/plans for future Capital Improvement Program budgets.
Throughout the course of nine months, the task force members met bi-weekly to address these items, gathering information from the City Manager, Finance Director and staff, and officials from 10 city offices and departments. After review of financial information gathered through these meetings, the task force developed numerous recommendations within the categories of Fees for Services, City Efficiencies and Cost Reduction, and Economic Development.
While the report says all the recommendations could improve the financial health of the City of Delaware, the task force identified three key recommendations they say will have a near-term and sustainable positive impact on the city’s financial viability:
- Increase the overall income tax rate to 2.25%, with no change in the current credit of 50% for tax paid to other cities.
- Renew and restructure the current recreation levy of 0.15%.
- Introduce soft billing for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and examine the possibility for restructuring the current tax (0.7%) that supports Fire and EMS.
Perhaps the most significant of the recommendations is increasing the overall income tax rate from the current 1.85% to 2.25%. The idea was echoed in another recent study. Economist Dr. Bill LaFayette made recommendations related to the tax rate and credit as part of a fiscal analysis of Delaware he developed for city officials in 2020.
An increase to 2.25% increases the rate by .4%, which will result in Delaware residents paying 22% more than they do now.
2.25%-1.85% = .4% .4/1.85 = .216216216 .216216216 rounds to .22 .22 = 22%
In its work over the past nine months, the task force said Delaware residents receive a high level of services relative to other Central Ohio communities, while currently paying one of the lowest tax rates. However, as the city continues to grow this is no longer sustainable. Task force members say that the adoption of its recommendations is critical to maintain current services and the quality of life enjoyed by residents.
The task force was composed of nine members of the Delaware community, including Michael Guzzo, Chairman, Ben Kelly, Vice-Chairman, Jonathan Connar, Maura Donahue, Richard Hicks, Liz Owens, Zach Price, Lonny Ransaw, Brian Smith.
The city is currently accepting public comment on the draft report until 5 pm on Feb. 22. Feedback can be submitted via the city’s website at https://www.delawareohio.net/government/departments/finnancial-review-task-force-report/-fsiteid-1#!.
Following the public comment period, any needed changes will be made to the document, and it will be presented to City Council for adoption.
Adoption of the recommendations will not instantly raise income taxes in the city. According to state law, cities can enact an income tax of up to 1% without voter approval. Any increases over 1% will require a ballot issue.