Residents group advocating for Middletown income tax increase: What to know

A Middletown street crew work on paving a local street. Voters will consider a 10-year, 0.25% increase in the city income tax for a bond issue to do more than $31 million in street improvements to be done in 2021 and 2022. CONTRIBUTED/CITY OF MIDDLETOWN

A group of residents is advocating for the proposed 10-year, 0.25% income tax increase for Middletown street and road repairs, arguing the issue is one everyone can get behind.

Longtime resident Pete Dobrozsi said he’s part of a group of people who stepped up after Middletown City Council approved the ballot issue in late July for the Nov. 3 general election.

“It will allow the city to make a better impression and will help with economic development and attracting new businesses and residents,” he said.

If voters approve, the city’s income tax will go from 1.75% to 2% for 10 years. The additional 0.25% would generate about $3.13 million a year to leverage a bond issue for a massive $31.3 million comprehensive street improvement/paving project in 2021 and 2022, paving about 137 lane miles of streets.

ExploreWill taxes go up in Middletown? Voters to decide whether to fund street repairs

The city will spend more than $4.2 million in paving this year. Between 2016 and 2020, the city paved 60 lane miles for $9.7 million.

In 2021, the city is planning to spend more than $3.9 million for street paving and repairs from grant and enterprise funds, state grants, assessments for sidewalks, curbs and gutters and the city’s auto and gas tax allocation. If the bond issue is approved, the $31.3 million would be added to what the city is spending for paving.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Rick Pearce, president and CEO of The Chamber of Commerce Serving Middletown, Monroe and Trenton, said the local business organization voted to endorse the ballot issue.

Pearce said chambers of commerce are usually against tax increases, but it believes the increase would improve the city’s image, restore pride and enhance economic development efforts. He encouraged council to be transparent and share what streets would be repaired with the additional funding.

ExploreMiddletown council places income tax increase for streets on November ballot

The city maintains more than 621 lane miles of roadway, and 59% are rated as being in excellent, good or fair condition, according the latest Pavement Condition Index last done in 2017. The remaining 41% are rated as being in poor, very poor or failed conditions, according to Scott Tadych, city public works and utilities director.

The city evaluates streets and roads biannually, and Tadych is hoping to pave another 126 lane miles over the next five years. If the income tax increase is approved, that could go up to 200 lane miles of paving over that time.

The cost to repave all city streets is about $160 million. He said the cost per lane mile to pave streets is between $125,000 and $250,000, depending on the street’s condition.

A website has been created with information about the ballot issue and frequently asked questions at middletownstreetlevy.com.

The city’s first income tax, 1.5%, was approved by voters in 1969. In 2007, voters approved a 0.25% income tax increase that was dedicated for public safety expenditures, raising the city’s income tax to 1.75%. That 0.25% increase was made permanent in 2012.

Middletown residents also receive 100% reciprocity for income tax paid to other jurisdictions where they work.

“It’s your city and the decision is yours” are the parting words of Middletown City Manager Jim Palenick in a video about the upcoming ballot issue.

How will the city decide which streets will get paved first?

  • Pavement Condition
  • Traffic Volume/Safety Concerns
  • Maintenance Cost (i.e. are we constantly filling potholes)
  • Utility Considerations (i.e. are any water, sewer, gas or electric projects scheduled)
  • Complaints Received

Source: City of Middletown

ELECTION 2020

Count on the Journal-News for everything you need to know this election season.

We are the only news source covering all local candidates and issues on your ballot, and digging into a safe and accurate vote.

In Other News