Taxes are going up in the City of Warren.
But not as sharply as they could have.
Warren City Council on Monday approved a motion granting city administration the direction to prepare a final budget that includes a 3-mill increase in real estate taxes and holds the line on Earned Income Tax.
Real estate millage will jump from 16.8 mills to 19.8 mills while EIT will hold at 2.2 percent.
Council arrived at the rates after a four-hour public hearing and special meeting on the proposed 2013 budget. Final action on the budget will be taken next Monday at council's regular monthly meeting.
Many proposals were batted around during Monday evening's session. Discussion at a budget session held last month left an increase in the EIT of .3 percent as well as a 5-mill real estate tax increase on the table.
At Monday's meeting, Councilman Sam Harvey fought hard against any increase in the EIT, calling a .3-percent increase "a terrible idea" and pushed for a decrease in the rate.
"EIT is out of whack with any city our size," he said. "It's chasing people out of the city. If we're looking for additional revenues, hold EIT and look on the real estate."
Councilman John Lewis argued for a balanced approach that included an increase in both real estate millage and EIT.
"It we're going to have a burden, we need to share it," he said. "We need to take fiscal responsibility of the services we're going to provide. If we don't do that, we're not doing our jobs. I pay both. I want fire service. I want police. I want my leaves picked up and I'm willing to pay for that.
"I don't want to pay it all out of my earned income and I don't want to pay it all out of real estate," he said. "The property owners are going to pay and those that are earning money are going to pay."
A .3 percent EIT increase put forward by Lewis was defeated on a 5-2 vote with only Lewis and council vice president Maurice Cashman voting in favor..
Harvey's proposal called for a 5-mill real estate increase and a .3 percent reduction in EIT.
"I personally think 5 mills is way too much," Councilman Jim Zavinski said.
"It's too high," Cashman added.
"Seventeen percent of the people (living in the city) are over the age of 65," Councilman Dr. Howard Ferguson said. Those who are retired "have no earnings. That particular group bears an unjust burden. There's going to be an unjust burden (but) they're vulnerable people."
"I agree that a five-mill property tax increase is too much, but I also agree with Mr. Harvey," Councilman Chris Park said. "Our EIT is a bit out of whack compared to the cities around us. I would probably live with keeping it where it is and a three-mill tax increase. So at a three-mill tax increase, we're looking at a hit of $85 to $90 per household."
City Manager Nancy Freenock said that proposal would draw down the city's fund balance by $614,737.
"I'm comfortable with leaving us at $1.3 million or $1.4 million in fund balance," Park added, noting that the tax proposal "is probably a little more equitable."
Lewis, Ferguson, Zavinski, Cashman and Park voted in favor of the proposal. Harvey and Mayor Mark Phillips voted against it.
In other business, council
Approved a $6,000 contribution to the Paws Along the River Humane Society as well as $7,500 in matching funds that the Transit Authority of Warren County will use to secure funding from the state. Funding for the Warren Area Student Union was preserved as well.
In split 4-3 votes, contributions to the Warren County Historical Society and the Warren Garden Club were eliminated and the city's donation to Music in the Park was reduced from $2,500 to $1,500. Funding for the City Redevelopment Authority is also up in the air as council did not receive a request for funds and, according to Harvey, the RDA "is supposed to be self-sustaining."Action on funding for the RDA will be addressed at next Monday's meeting.