The City of New Carlisle appeared before the Clark County Board of Elections on Thursday, August 31, 2017 for a special hearing to present their case for protesting the petition filed by Kelli Bartlett a resident of the city.
Bartlett circulated a petition in the city designed to bring allow registered voters in the city to decide whether or not they wish to have “an income tax credit in an amount equal to income taxes paid by the resident taxpayer to another municipal corporation”. If passed, this would also amend the municipal code section 881.13 “regarding credits for taxes paid to another municipality or joint economic development district”.
City Manager Randy Bridge was joined by Law Director for the City of New Carlisle Lynnette Dinkler at the hearing to present the case for the city. Dinkler stated that the city was objecting to the petition for two reasons. The “circulator statement” did not appear on each page of the petition and that the “felony statement” was also not on all pages. In her argument, Dinkler noted that each “page or paper needs to include the circular statement and must have the felony warning”.
She addressed the board and Ms. Bartlett during her remarks at the hearing. Bartlett responded to questions posed by Dinkler stating that she did in fact circulate the petition door to door and that only the signature page was visible to those signing, however that she did have all of the petition pages on the clipboard she used. When asked how she approached those who agreed to sign, Bartlett stated that she “explained what the petition was about”. She noted that in her description she told signers that this was about “income tax credit” if they were employed in another city. She also asked if they were in fact register voters.
Bridge was a sworn witness for the city and was asked by Dinkler if he had spoken with any registered voters who signed the petition. He stated that he had talked with a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals for the City of New Carlisle. He also talked with others who were confused about the ballot issue and some thought this was a reciprocal agreement where the other municipality would pay New Carlisle a portion of the tax they collect from resident who work within their jurisdiction. This is not the case and Bartlett explained to the New Carlisle News that this is not something that voters can decide.
As the board deliberated behind closed doors, we asked Bartlett why she had filed the ballot issue. Her comments noted that she felt that some individuals in the city were paying more in municipal taxes because they live in New Carlisle and must pay and also pay where they work. She feels it would be “more equitable” if they received a credit for the local taxes and only pay where they work. When asked how she sees the City of New Carlisle making up the lost income, Bartlett suggested that the city should have taken steps to generate more income and that if passed, this would “force the city to look at other directions” to replace the income lost.
City Manager confirmed to the New Carlisle News that if passed this would be a loss of just under a million dollars from the city general fund. The income tax generates 60 percent of the general fund for the City of New Carlisle.
The board returned to open session and unanimously voted to allow the petition to appear on the November 7, 2017 ballot. Bridge acknowledged that he will be speaking with council at their next meeting on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 regarding next steps. The meeting was moved due to the Labor Day holiday on the regular meeting day of Monday. He declined to comment other than explaining that “Ms Bartlett never had a one on one meeting with me regarding the impact” of the petition.
Council member Bill Lindsey was present for the hearing and did provide comment on the record. “If this imitative passes, in my opinion the city will need to make drastic cuts to all services that are paid from the general fund”. Lindsey went on to explain that if voters approve the measure, the loss of income will bring “devastation to the city”.
Voters will be hearing more once the entire council is able to review the decision and receive next steps from their legal advisor and recommendations from the City Manager on how this will impact the services should voters approve the measure.