Troy City Council heard comments on a proposed 0.25 percent, 10-year income tax increase for recreation and park facilities from seven people Monday, Dec. 19, before holding a resolution and ordinance that would place the request on the May 2 ballot to a first reading.
The resolution and ordinance will appear again on council's agenda Jan. 3 for a second reading with an emergency provision.
Council member Robin Oda asked council Monday to hold first readings on both the resolution and ordinance.
Oda said she thinks the public should be allowed to decide on the tax but she would not support the staff request for the council to suspended council's normal three readings and vote Monday as an emergency measure.
Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director, said the emergency action would help ensure the city is able to meet all requirements for filing for the May 2 ballot by a Feb. 1 deadline at the Miami County Board of Elections.
The income tax proposal was brought forward just weeks after council voted Nov. 7 to pull from the Nov. 8 ballot a property tax to pay for a list of recreation/park projects proposed by the Operation Recreation 2020 Committee. The request was withdrawn because of a misplaced decimal point in ballot language.
The property tax would have raised $1 million a year for 10 years.
The proposed income tax would generate $2.57 million a year to pay for the list of projects proposed by Operation Recreation along with a second sheet of ice near Hobart Arena.
At Monday's meeting, council again heard from several supporters of various Operation Recreation projects including the ice rink and soccer fields and improvements to Miami Shores Golf Course and the Senior Citizens Center. Proponents talked about the need for more facilities and how many of those facilities – more soccer fields, ball fields and ice – could be used to host tournaments and other events to bring visitors and their money into the community.
Opposition was voiced by Bernie Vogel, who said he lives outside of Troy but pays city income tax, and city resident Lester Conard.
Vogel said the tax increase was "huge," would be taxation without representation in his case and in his mind the proposal was being rushed after the property tax request was dropped. "It doesn't seem right to me to come back a month later with an income tax," he said.
Conard said he was concerned for several reasons, including the Troy schools reported interest in asking voters to support a school levy, also in 2017.
Before council's discussion, Council President Marty Baker asked for clarification on whether those promoting the tax would be required to file a campaign finance report with the elections office. None was filed for the Operation Recreation campaign for the withdrawn tax request.
Councilman Bobby Phillips, who also leads the Operation Recreation committee, said his understanding was the committee didn't need to file a finance report or designate a committee treasurer because it wasn't a political action committee.
The proposed project list in the new Operation Recreation proposal includes:
Duke Park: A nine-field baseball/softball complex; three youth soccer fields; improvements of infrastructure to consolidate park maintenance operations; expanded parking; added park entrances; and other park enhancements.
Miami Shores Golf Course: Complete renovation of clubhouse; install outdoor practice driving range.
Hobart Arena: Construction of second ice rink to north of arena
Senior Citizens Center: Repair/renovations to roof, siding, foundation, doors, windows and concrete; restoration of shuffleboard courts; parking lot resurfacing.