|Council considers raising income tax|
|Tuesday, July 23, 2013 11:43 PM|
BY NANCY SPENCER
DELPHOS — A special council meeting called by Mayor Mike Gallmeier produced more questions than answers Tuesday.
Facing a deficit of more than $250,000 in the 2014 Budget and losses of nearly $1 million in water and sewer charges for Reser’s Fine Foods and an undetermined amount in income tax from the 104 employees who will lose their jobs, Delphos City Council considered one of its options Tuesday evening.
Council heard on first reading two pieces of legislation to raise the income tax for Delphos residents and businesses from 1.5 percent to 1.75 percent and place the measure on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot. The tax increase would generate approximately $400,000 per year.
Discussion quickly followed with Councilman Jim Knebel saying he would not vote for either measure before seeing what cuts could be made.
“I will not vote for this when we have firemen making $70,000,” he said. “What makes us think the citizens will pass this? We need to look at everything. We can’t find anything if we aren’t looking.”
Safety Service Director Greg Berquist said everything is on the table for cuts.
“We are looking at all departments for cuts,” Berquist said. “Nothing is safe.”
Council President Kim Riddell commented on the tax.
“The $400,000 from the income tax doesn’t even solve our problems,” she said. “We need more than that to fill the gaps of the losses from the businesses leaving and the deficit we already had before we learned they were leaving.”
Councilman Kevin Osting wanted to hear a contingency plan.
“What are we going to do if it doesn’t pass?” he asked. “How can we pass this without knowing the plan?”
Osting also questioned overtime on the books.
“What kind of overtime do the water and sewer plants have?” he asked. “I thought they were going to take time off during the week so they could work weekends without overtime. What is happening with that?”
Auditor Tom Jettinghoff had some numbers available on the issue.
“For 2012, the water department had $12,000 in overtime for $145,000 in salaries and the sewer department had $8,500 in overtime for $206,000 in salaries,” he said.
Councilman Jim Fortener was concerned about the remaining businesses.
“We can’t keep raising and raising rates. We have to find a way to bring something in to town,” he said. “We can’t put this all off on the ones that are still here or we will see them leave as well.”
Councilmen asked Berquist and Jettinghoff for more information on the budget and the separate departments as well as input from city employees.
“We could use some insight from the ones who are out there every day doing the jobs as to how we can save money,” Knebel said.
He also asked for the base costs for operating the water and wastewater sewer plants.
Council will hold another special meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers. The meeting is open to the public.