BG voters to face 0.08-percent tax hike

Bowling Green voters will be asked to approve a 0.08-percent income tax hike in November to fund part of
the projected deficit for the 2010 city budget.
The 4-3 vote Monday night followed a 40-minute discussion that indicated all members felt a hike was
justified but had different ideas on the amount.
After a third reading of an ordinance proposing a permanent 0.20-percent increase for fire purposes,
At-Large Member Terry Dunn offered an amendment calling for a 0.08-percent increase for the general fund
that would run through Dec. 31, 2012.
Dunn got support from Gordy Heminger, Robert McOmber, Larry Sorrells and John Zanfardino. Mike Frost and
Megan Newlove opposed the change, indicating council had been over the numbers many times in the past
six months and the original figure was needed to have the best shot at maintaining services.
Further discussion brought a motion from Zanfardino to up the amount to 0.15-percent, with Heminger
adding the second. Only Frost joined in the final vote and that amendment failed.
Frost then proposed going back to the 0.20-percent level, with a second from Newlove. Zanfardino was the
only additional supporter.
In the end, Dunn, McOmber, Sorrells and Zanfardino voted for the 0.08-percent, general fund, three-year
measure that will appear on the ballot.
The 0.08-percent hike would give BG a 2 percent income tax, which Dunn said is as high as most cities
have gone in Ohio. He said much of the money would probably end up going to fire services but by keeping
it all in the general fund council had flexibility it would not have if the levy was for fire services
“I’m opposed to a permanent tax. This would be a temporary increase. It’s nice to know that this will go
away,” Dunn said. “I hope citizens will look at this as an opportunity to choose to support the services
they have come to expect while the city weathers the storm.”
Frost pointed out that citizens need to know there will be cuts with a smaller increase. “What if things
don’t turn around in three years? We’ll have to go back to the voters. We’ve got to know the cuts and
get them in front of the people.” Frost said shortfalls in the fire levy are no surprise and that is
“still a situation we have to address.”
McOmber said a two percent total city tax was the highest number he would support. “It won’t solve all of
the problems for 2010. We’re about $1 million short and this would raise about $600,000. The best
information with this tax level is that we would have to cut $400,000.”
Newlove said comparing what BG citizens get for their money to other cities “is like comparing apples to
oranges. We offer a lot of services other cities do not. I’m inclined to go with the 0.20-percent and
let voters decide if they want the services.”
McOmber said the option to reallocate the existing income tax is still something council could propose.
“I think if the average citizen could understand redistribution, the vote would be favorable,” McOmber
Sorrells said any tax increase would be tough to take but “with this we can buy a little time and hope
for the best. It may not work.”
Council also:
• Approved new contracts with the BG Municipal Employees Union and Police Command Officers. Following
previous contracts approved this year, there is no wage increase.
• Gave first reading to ordinances concerning unlawful discrimination and changing the definition of
discrimination in existing city ordinances.