Herald Staff Writer
Big changes could be on the horizon for Barberton residents who work outside of the Magic City.
In efforts to bring in revenue, Mayor William Judge has proposed a 50% reduction of income tax credit for those who work outside of the city. The legislation was introduced without a draft during the Nov. 25 finance meeting where council members called for the legislation and requested three readings, which would require a special meeting to be scheduled Monday, Dec. 30.
If this piece of legislation passes, residents who work outside of the city would have to pay an additional 1.125% in income tax to Barberton. For example, if you work in Akron earning $30,000 annually, you would still pay Akron $750 in income tax (at their tax rate of 2.5%) and an additional $337.50 to Barberton.
Councilwoman Shannon Wokojance asked Judge, “Have you considered maybe not jumping to a 50% match, maybe more like 70%, something that isn’t so extreme?” Judge explained that the 50% makes up for the income tax loss expected from losing Babcock & Wilcox (B&W), who are still operating in the city despite their claims to leave in October. He said, “You could do a different percentage but you still may have to make cuts.”
A citizen from the gallery questioned how many people this would affect and Finance Director Jeremy Flaker explained the CCA only provided him the amount of money it would generate (estimating $1.3 million annually). Wokojance requested that Flaker contact CCA again to try to obtain this information. Councilwoman At-Large Carla Debevec stated that the city is $1.7 million above the estimated collections for the year and said, “That would cover the loss of B&W for next year. Am I looking at that incorrectly or am I missing something?” Flaker says this is true, but he followed up by asking, “What happens in 2021?”
Judge stated, “The other alternatives would be to go to the voters for an income tax increase or property assessment. And you think about people who are retired and on a fixed income. It doesn’t make it easy but it makes sense.” He has also urged council members to voice their ideas to help recover financially from the impending loss of B&W.
Debevec stated, “In all fairness it doesn’t affect those who are retired or work in the city but just because you do work doesn’t mean you aren’t on a fixed income or have a fixed budget.” She also said she would like to know the tax rates, how many residents would be affected and how many other communities do this. “I feel like all of that information should have been provided for us to look at.”