Committee wants West Chester Twp. to become a city

WEST CHESTER, OH (FOX19) - A committee has been working to collect signatures to let voters decide next year whether West Chester should become a city. The committee has collected a couple thousand signatures so far, but still needs a couple thousand more signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

"For the community as a whole there is no doubt, it's perfectly clear that West Chester is a city, we need to stop pretending we're a township," said Bill Zerkle, West Chester Township trustee candidate.

The effort to make West Chester a city is on billboards and the Committee for West Chester has been going door to door to educate residents about the pros of making West Chester a city.

"The average home owner will save $800 per year on their property tax, that is a lot of money, we have the highest property taxes in Butler County right now," said Zerkle

Zerkle says if West Chester becomes a city an earnings tax could be set in place to generate revenue for the city. He says because West Chester is a township it can't collect on income tax, thus the city is losing out on millions of dollars.

"What we tell them is, we don't want your money, we don't need your earnings tax, just go back home and pay it," said Zerkle.  "And that costs us about $20 million a year and that is enough to pay for our police and fire levies."

But on the other side, West Chester Township Trustee George Lang says making West Chester a city doesn't make sense and would hurt the township's economic growth.

"There would be an income tax not only on employees, but on every incorporation as well," said Lang. "So it's that additional tax burden that businesses are coming here to avoid."

Lang also says being a township allows voters to decide on police and fire levies, where as in a city local government has more power to raise taxes.

"I don't like the option that we can raise taxes without having the voters support," said Lang. "Don't give us the money, we don't need it, we'll only spend it so don't give it to us."