WILMINGTON — The city’s voters said yes Tuesday to the 0.5 percent temporary municipal tax on City of Wilmington ballots.
In unofficial totals, 2,208 voters, or 51.7 percent, voted for the tax, while 2,062 voters, or 48.3 percent, voted against it.
The group Campaign for Wilmington’s Future touted passage of the measure as one “necessary for the quality of life residents have come to expect in a community once ranked as one of the best small towns in America.”
Dana Dunn, co-chairman of the Campaign for Wilmington’s Future, was happy with the results.
“I am grateful that our residents understood that we need this,” said Dunn.
Co-chair Tyler Williams added, “I’m happy that so many residents of Wilmington have chosen to invest in the future of the city. We know that it was a tough decision for many, but I am confident that we can move forward as a city towards a brighter tomorrow.”
The committee had pointed out that in the past decade, Wilmington was hit by a historic loss of jobs, resulting in the city’s tax base being cut in half and the city operating on supplemental funds for the past six years despite cuts throughout the government. Also, the group contended that it understands that the city is in dire financial straits despite efforts to cut costs, including eliminating positions, hiring and pay freezes, and department consolidation, and also the State of Ohio balanced its budget in part by making significant cuts to local governments like Wilmington.
“I want to thank the voters,” said council member Jonathan McKay. “We will put the money into what we said it would go into.”
Brian Shidaker, Wilmington’s Safety and Service Director, said, “This is going to make a great impact on the quality of our residents’ living, our city streets, and our safety services.”
The tax has a temporary term, and will not impact retirement benefits.
The committee stated that “an estimated 79 percent of the tax will be paid by people who don’t live in Wilmington but who work here and benefit from the services that the city provides to employers, including fire and police protection, snow removal, transit services, street repair and water and sewage services.”
The group added that the largest beneficiary of the increased revenue will be the Wilmington Police Department and the Wilmington Fire Department— safety service providers that are so important to residents and visitors.
Additional revenues will be invested to maintain streets and enforce building codes to prevent derelict properties from destroying investments made by homeowners and businesses. Many officials expressed their gratitude and happiness with the results.
Voters approve fluoride
Wilmington voters also decided they want their water fluoridated. Council last summer decided its residents should have a voice in whether to add fluoride to the city’s water, placing a non-binding resolution on the ballot.
The measure passed, 2,365 (56.7 percent) to 1,804 (43.3 percent).
President of Council Randy Riley stated earlier this year that a non-binding resolution would allow the city to fluoridate water but wouldn’t require the city. “So if there was some overwhelming reason discovered why we shouldn’t, we don’t have to.”
The vote marks the beginning to the end of a debate that’s gone on since March after the committee first discussed the issue. A public hearing was also held in May, when several local health officials spoke in favor of fluoridation while citizens spoke in favor of and against it.