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Steubenville city officials to promote tax levies

FIGURING IT OUT – With Steubenville’s 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent income taxes up for renewal on the May 4 ballot, city leaders gathered Friday to figure out how to get crucial information into the hands of voters.

STEUBENVILLE – During the next 100 days, city leaders are planning an all-out effort to make sure voters understand just how important renewing Steubenville’s two existing income tax levies is to municipal operations.

Voters in the May 4 election will be asked to renew the city’s 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent income taxes. Each levy question would require a separate “yes” vote for renewal.

“It’s extremely important,” Mayor Jerry Barilla said. “These are funds that the city relies on to operate — monies needed to pay for our police and fire departments’ wages, monies … for the paving of our streets and purchase of equipment (we need) to provide necessary services to the community, and monies for recreation improvements. So it’s essential that the citizens of Steubenville vote ‘yes’ on both the 0.7 and 0.3 percent renewal income tax.”

City residents currently pay a total of 2 percent in income taxes, but the first 1 percent isn’t subject to a vote. The remaining 1 percent – that’s the 0.3 percent plus the 0.7 percent – income tax requires voter renewal every five years.

“These are not new taxes, they’re renewals,” said Domenick Mucci, former mayor. On Friday, Mucci joined current city leaders and union reps for a levy renewal strategy session at the city building. “Our voters are going to be asked to vote twice – once for the 0.7 percent renewal and once for the 0.3 percent renewal. We’re asking them to vote twice – vote yes twice.”

Most of the 0.3 percent income tax revenue – 85 percent – is earmarked for the general fund. The money is used to pay police, firefighters and other general fund salaries, including court and administrative employees.

About two-thirds of general fund employees are in the police and fire departments.

The other 15 percent is allocated to the street fund. That money is used for projects like the hot mix program as well as to leverage state and federal grants for major resurfacing projects.

The 0.7 percent income tax is used to fund programs and services city residents expect: Street improvements, recreation and city equipment, as well as the general fund. In 2020, about $100,000 of the 0.7 percent income tax revenue was earmarked for recreation improvements and $300,000 for the equipment fund, with another $500,000 allocated to the street fund — usually used for the city’s hot mix program. The remaining $500,000 was earmarked for the general fund. Anything more than $1.4 million would go directly into the general fund.

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