The Stow Taxpayer Bill of Rights

With my final piece of legislation as City Council President, I’m proposing a taxpayer bill of rights amendment to Stow’s Charter.

Most notably, the bill of rights would require voter approval before the city eliminates the residence tax credit, which protects Stow residents from double-paying their municipal income taxes—both to Stow, and to the city in which they work. Presently, Stow has a 100% credit, but City Council can reduce the credit without voter approval.

As a matter of fundamental fairness, our residents should never be taxed twice on the same dollar. I firmly believe a future City Council should ask voters’ permission before pulling that rug.

In 2014, the Canton Repository reported that, out of 592 Ohio cities and villages with an income tax, 239 municipalities do not offer a 100% credit for residents who pay taxes to other municipalities. In contrast to Stow’s Charter, Munroe Falls’ Charter prohibits a reduction of the credit without voter approval.

The taxpayer bill of rights also states that Stow may only place an income tax increase on the ballot by a vote of a supermajority of City Council (5 of 7 votes). Last, my proposal states that any reduction in the tax credit or increase in the tax rate may only be placed on a November general-election ballot—and not on a May or September primary where turnout is lower.

There could be a day when the city truly needs more tax revenue. This bill of rights will not stop it from happening. Instead, I intend to discourage a tax increase in the instances where it is not necessary.

Stow last attempted to raise income taxes from 2% to 2.25% in November 2013. The issue failed by a 68-32 margin. If approved by City Council, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights will appear on the May 2018 ballot.