Educating voters key in urging support for Blanchester tax, councilman says

By Gary Huffenberger -

BLANCHESTER — In asking citizens to vote for a 1 percent earnings tax this fall, a councilman said it’s important to dispel the belief the village is paying for a downtown sidewalk project.

“I get beat up on a daily basis, people asking why we’re wasting village money uptown on sidewalks because they think we’re [village treasury] is spending the money,” Blanchester Village Councilman Chad Hollon III said at Thursday night’s special council session.

Rather, it is grant money from the State of Ohio that’s funding the project, village officials said.

Another council member, Tyler McCollister, said he’s hearing the same type of comments and questions as Hollon is regarding the sidewalk project.

At the special meeting, an informational flyer composed by council’s Finance Committee was available to attendees.

Also at the meeting, council members said they agreed with the recommendation of the Finance Committee to give the proposed earnings tax a time frame of seven years.

The flyer states that retirees, Social Security, disability, Veterans Affairs benefits, as well as religious, educational and “bona fide charitable” organizations are not required to pay the tax if it passes.

During public comment, Blanchester resident James Constable said it is important to also educate the public about which organizations or businesses will be required to pay the tax. That includes companies such as American Showa that make a profit, he said.

Constable wonders whether the figure of $500,000 might not be low as an estimate of how much revenue the tax would generate annually.

Blanchester residents who work in another municipality that has its own earnings tax will not have to pay the Blanchester tax unless the tax in the town they work in is less than the 1 percent Blanchester will have if it passes.

The Finance Committee recommended that RITA — the Regional Income Tax Agency — serve as the tax administrator of the tax, if passed. A representative from RITA is expected to be at a village council special meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 27.

As reported in the News Journal’s Friday print edition, the flyer states the village during the past years “has used its savings just to maintain the services necessary for our community.”

The flyer also indicates a 1 percent earnings tax “will be in line with almost all Ohio cities and neighboring villages.”

The flyer states, “If the earnings tax does not pass in November, we will be forced to reduce safety services limiting our police department’s ability to function properly.”

If the tax proposal does pass, revenue from it will be used for street and infrastructure repair, maintaining “a fully staffed police force,” and hiring a village administrator who would oversee village operations including those of the Blanchester Board of Public Affairs, according to the flyer.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

By Gary Huffenberger