Windham Village Council to vote on repeal of income tax credit

By Dave O'Brien | staff writer Published:

Following the failure in November of a ballot measure increasing Windham's income tax by 0.5 percent, Village Council will consider repealing a 0.5 percent income tax credit for village residents tonight.

The issue will be considered during council's final meeting of the year at 7 p.m. at the village hall, 9621 E. Center St. Mayor Rob Donham said Monday he expects a crowd at the meeting, and that the vote will be close.

"It will be a slim margin, and it will not be a unanimous vote," he said. "But I hope it passes and I think it will pass. If it's a tie, I will break the tie and I will support repealing the credit. I don't disagree it's a bad idea, but the other idea is worse: Getting rid of our police force."

The proposed tax increase failed in the Nov. 6 election by a 3 to 1 margin. It was meant to increase revenue for the village's general fund, which has taken a hit due to a decrease in state funding to local governments. Windham lost $150,000 in state funding alone, Donham said.

Donham previously said that 80 percent of the village's general fund goes to the Windham Police Department. Cuts that will take place with or without an income tax increase include contracting out dispatch service to another agency, laying off seven dispatchers and not filling two open, full-time positions on the police force.

"These are employees who have worked with us for a long time. A lot of them are local residents. These are our friends," he said.

The current income tax rate is 1.5 percent. Village residents pay 1 percent with the credit, but would pay the full 1.5 percent if the tax credit is repealed. Donham said plans are to put the income tax increase on the ballot next year. If approved, the tax credit could be reinstated at that time or when the economy gets better.

Donham said the issue comes down to the safety of village residents. The village has made all the cuts it can, and has no "luxury items" in its budget, he said.

"I'm not willing to sacrifice the safety of the residents for the credit of a few people," he said. "I don't want to choose either, but I'll take paying more for the safety of my children."

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com

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