Athens To Send Potential Tax Increase To Voters

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A potential increase in the income tax rate for those in the City of Athens will go to the voters after the third reading of an ordinance was approved by Council on Monday.

The tax would generate approximately $650,000 a year, costing someone who earns $30,000 in income per year $30.

Proposed is a 0.1 percent income tax increase that would go to fund arts, parks and recreation within the city. Items included in this are the construction of a new swimming pool, accessibility to all playgrounds, trails and facilities, property acquisition, equipment, furnishings and maintenance and operation and staffing of arts, parks and recreation facilities and grounds in the city of Athens.

The tax would be in place for 20 years, as is the case with the city's current 0.1 percent income tax which was set to expire at the end of 2016. Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said he believes this levy would be a replacement to the current levy if approved. The new income tax, if approved by voters, would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

Councilwoman Chris Fahl stated during Monday's meeting that the maintenance and management people in the city should be commended because "they have made so much of our facilities last as long as they have."
The current Athens City Pool opened in 1971.

"We are tops in that sort of process," said Fahl. "People get a good value for the money that they do spend on this sort of city income tax levy."

The city has a 20-year, 0.1 percent income tax that was implemented in 1997 to pay for the Athens Community Center, construction of which was completed in 2000.

As previously reported, the city’s Arts, Parks and Recreation Department completed a new master plan with the aid of an advisory committee. One of the top priorities laid out in the master plan is the need to build a new swimming pool or aquatic center. To help fund a new pool and other projects — such as accessibility upgrades at city arts, parks and recreation facilities — an advisory committee has recommended a 0.1 percent replacement tax.