— On Monday, Akron City Council unanimously passed legislation allowing Akron voters to decide on the City’s proposal for a ¼-percent income tax increase to support police, fire/EMS and roadway improvements in the city of Akron.
The proposal—expected to generate $16 million per year—will be submitted to Akron voters at the Nov. 7 election. The revenue generated will help maintain current police and fire/EMS staffing levels and fund overdue investments in capital infrastructure and equipment. Immediate needs include replacing outdated police cruisers and crumbling fire stations, and paving an additional 43 miles of Akron streets each year.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announced the proposal last month after nearly two years of community outreach and listening to residents’ needs and concerns. “Our citizens expect the highest quality police and fire/EMS protection and safe, well-maintained streets in their neighborhoods. And they deserve nothing less,” Mayor Horrigan said. “These are the most important, core services we provide as a City.”
“For years, the city has reduced personnel and consolidated services to save money, but after 36 years with no income tax increases for essential city services, and $15 million per year in lost tax-sharing from the state of Ohio, our community needs this increase now,” Councilwoman Margo Sommerville, chair of the Rules Committee said Monday.
If successful, the ¼-percent increase will be spent approximately equally between police, fire/EMS and roads.
“This proposal is fair. Workers in the highest income bracket will pay more, workers in lower income brackets will pay less, and those who are not working will not pay anything at all,” the city’s Director of Finance, Diane Miller-Dawson, said. The additional ¼-percent income tax is not a property tax and will not affect retirement/pension income, social security or other government benefits. Two-thirds of the funding raised through income tax collection is paid by commuters who work in Akron and use city roads and services.
If passed, this proposal would raise Akron’s income tax to 2.5 percent, consistent with cities like Cleveland, Columbus and Dayton. The cost of the additional ¼-percent tax is $1.68 a week, for a resident earning Akron’s median income of $35,000.
“I thank Council for their support of this reasonable proposal to provide the city with the resources we need to invest back in Akron’s streets and provide our police and fire/EMS personnel with the equipment and facilities they need to protect our neighborhoods and keep us safe,” Horrigan said. “I look forward to making the case to the community that this increase is necessary, fair and reasonable and will make a significant positive impact on our neighborhoods.”