Athens City Tax Increase Heads To The Ballot

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The first tax increase in three decades is headed to the ballot after Athens City Council approved the measure Monday night.

At their last regular meeting before a summer break, council approved a resolution taking a 0.2 percent income tax increase to the November ballot.

The increase, if approved by voters, would take the tax rate for city residents from 1.65 percent to 1.85 percent of their income. For a resident with an annual salary of $30,000, taxes under the new tax rate would be $555. Under the old tax rate, an annual salary of $30,000 would be taxed $495.

Mayor Steve Patterson said the tax increase is necessary so the city can improve its aging infrastructure and address longstanding street maintenance.

“The cost of street maintenance and sidewalk repairs, the price of doing those things has gone up,” Patterson said. “But the amount (of money) going to the streets is pretty much the same.”

Adding to the stress on the budget is less and less funding at the state level, with decreasing amounts coming from the local government fund every year, according to Patterson.

He said the decreases in funding and increases in costs have made decisions about which streets get repaved or repaired even harder and city services “get stretched thinner and thinner.”

“We have repairs to the infrastructure that are needed, we have water line repairs and we have sewer repairs as well,” Patterson said. “So it’s a balancing act.”

In comparison, the city of Nelsonville’s income tax rate is 1.75 percent, and Logan city residents pay a 2 percent tax rate.

The new tax rate would be enacted beginning Jan. 1, 2017, if passed in November.