Van Wert County saw low turnout for the primary election in May which had a proposed income tax increase for the City of Van Wert on the ballot. Above, voters complete their ballots at the Van Wert Council on Aging. (DHI Media/File Photo)
Van Wert County saw low turnout for the primary election in May which had a proposed income tax increase for the City of Van Wert on the ballot. Above, voters complete their ballots at the Van Wert Council on Aging. (DHI Media/File Photo)

VAN WERT – The City of Van Wert tried twice in 2017 to pass an income tax increase. Both times voters rejected the idea.

The 0.28 percent income tax increase was first discussed in 2016 when, during a City Council meeting, it was stated that the General Fund would eventually fall short. To help create revenue, the city agreed to put the measure on the May 2 primary election ballot.

During the May primaries, an unexpectedly low amount of voters turned up to the polls with only 7 percent of voters participating. During that election, the 0.28 percent tax increase proposition was defeated by 49 votes, 586 to 537.

The city decided to put the measure on the ballot again in November, and this time their aim was to get older voters to the polls.

After months of discussion and campaigning to get the purposed tax increase passed in the November election, the issue was ultimately defeated again. Although more voters turned out, the measure received an even bigger “no” vote.

In the November general election the measure was defeated by 205 votes, 1,143 to 938.

After the second defeat, Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur spoke of cuts that the city would need to make, including leaf pick up, assist calls, and personnel due to attrition. After speaking with Fire Chief Jon Jones, Mazur retracted his statement and explained that assist calls would still be answered.

In recent City Council meetings, a temporary budget has been discussed. The Council has been tasked with making sure the General Fund balance stays above zero. In the Dec. 11 meeting, Council discussed the idea of taking the tax credit for citizens who work out of the city but live in the city to zero as a way to generate revenue.

Looking ahead to 2018, Council will need to make an official budget and deal with attrition. Already, the city has lost three employees who will not be replaced.