The ballot explained: What will Hamilton County residents vote on this November?
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - There is a lengthy list of issues Hamilton County and Cincinnati residents will get to make a decision on come Nov. 7.
On top of voting on state issues 1 & 2, residents across the county will vote on several tax levees, including those regarding the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and the Cincinnati Public Library.
Cincinnati Zoo tax levy
Hamilton County residents will get to vote on whether they want to renew the Cincinnati Zoo’s current property tax levy or not, which is set at .46 mills.
Issue 19 says the levy helps with zoo services and facility operations.
If it passes, residents will be required to pay $9 for every $100,000 of property value for five years, which is what they pay now. The Hamilton County auditor estimates the zoo will collect over $7 million annually.
However, this is not what the zoo was hoping for originally.
According to Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard, the park was looking for a 43% tax increase to help cover the costs of inflation that he says has impacted the zoo financially.
“Expenses covered by the levy are up 79% since voters last approved a tax increase 15 years ago. Costs for animal care alone have doubled in that time,” said Maynard. “The inflationary increase that we’ve requested would amount to about 25 cents more per month for the owner of a $100,000 home, and it would help us remain the world-class Zoo that we are. We think that residents value what we bring to the community and would support what we’re asking if they’re given the opportunity to vote for it.”
But the levy proposal was denied by all three Hamilton County Commissioners in August.
“In my mind, I have to make a priority list,” Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. “You can’t from my vantage point raise all the levies at the same time because at some point the taxpayers do push back and say enough is enough.”
Had the levy been put on the November ballot, Hamilton County residents would have ended up paying a little over $12, instead of $9 for every $100,000 of property value.
Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library tax levy
A renewal and increase for the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library tax levy will be on the ballot this year that will help fund operating expenses and improvements to 41 branches.
Currently, residents pay 1 mill, but the library increased it to 1.5 mill, which equates to $43 for each $100,000 of property.
If Issue 20 passes, the levy will be in place for 10 years.
City residents have the opportunity to vote on several issues, depending on where they are located.
The cities are Cheviot, Cincinnati, Mt. Healthy, North College Hill and Norwood.
Issue 22: To sell or not to sell the Cincinnati Southern Railway?
The biggest one happens to involve the sale of the Cincinnati Southern Railway, which has sparked an uptick in controversy between citizens and the city after an election complaint was filed this month.
Issue 22 is a proposed ordinance to sell the Cincinnati Southern Railway to Norfolk Southern Corporation for a purchase of $1.6 billion in 2024.
The issue description says the money, $26.5 million, will be disbursed annually to the city, which will go toward rehabilitating and modernizing city roads, bridges, buildings, parks and more.
Currently, the city receives $25 million from Norfolk Southern annually thanks to a lease that expires Dec. 31, 2026, according to financial reports.
In April 2022, the “rail giant” offered the city $1.6 billion for the 337-mile track.
After a third-party analysis conducted by BMO, the deal seemed like a fair offer.
However, city residents are the ones who get to make the final call this November.
Issue 23: Elections & voting in Cincinnati
Cincinnati voters will choose whether to vote in favor of a charter amendment that will clarify elections and voting in the city.
The amendment will do the following:
- Clarify the process for citizens to initiate charter amendments, ordinances and referenda. This will be possible with a timeline for submitting documents like petitions, referenda and charter amendments to the Clerk of Council to allow a reasonable time for verification of signatures, drafting ordinances and the chance to collect more signatures if needed.
- Permits City Council to cast their votes by any method that publicly announces their vote.
- Clarify that council terms are two years long.
- Clarify that candidate petition circulators must sign a statement rather than provide a notarized affidavit on candidate petitions.
- Align the timeline for filing a nominating petition for an election to an unexpired term for mayor with state and federal requirements.
- Provide an opportunity for council and mayoral candidates to collect additional signatures on their petitions by amending the “Legislative Powers” and “Nominations and Elections” sections.
Issue 24: Financing affordable housing with tax dollars
A new proposed charter amendment wants to raise income and withholding taxes by .3% to help fund affordable housing, something that has become a hot commodity over the years.
The amendment will primarily help the city’s poorest residents and will increase the income tax from 1.8% to 2.1%.
According to Issue 24, 65% of this money would help fund housing for those making 30% of the median income in the area, and 30% would go toward fixing and maintaining homes for those earning 50% of the area’s median income.
If the amendment passes, income taxes for city residents will increase starting Jan. 1, 2025.
Issue 21: A tax levy to benefit the Cheviot Fire Department
Tax levy supporters in Cheviot seek a majority vote this November to help fund local fire and EMS crews.
If passed, residents will begin paying $105 for every $100,000 of property value for five years starting in 2024.
This money, which equates to $383,000 annually, will then go toward providing and maintaining firefighting and emergency medical services in the area.
Issue 25: An additional tax levy for the Mt. Healthy Police Department
A tax levy will be on the ballot for Mt. Healthy voters this year to help fund the operation and maintenance of the police department.
The levy is set at a rate of 1.54 mills for each $1 of taxable value, equating to $54 for every $100,000 of property value starting in 2024.
Issue 28: North College Hill tax levy renewal
North College Hill residents will also get to vote on whether they want to continue to pay a tax that benefits senior citizens and facilities.
The city collects $55,000 annually at a rate of .5 mill for each $1 of taxable value, amounting to $13 for each $100,000 of property.
If it passes, the levy will commence in 2024 and the tax will be first due in 2025 for the next five years.
Issue 29: Selling wine and mixed beverages on Sunday by World Market
A niche group of Norwood residents will see a local liquor option on their ballot this year.
Those whose voting group is Ward 2, Precinct C will decide whether World Market, located at 2692 Madison Rd., will be allowed to sell wine and mixed beverages on Sunday.
The issue was approved to be on the ballot via petition.
Anderson Township Park District tax levy
Anderson Township Parks is asking residents to vote yes on Issue 18, a tax levy they say will improve the local park district.
According to the district, the current operating levy in place does not generate enough revenue, which is why they are proposing a capital levy for 2024 that will last 25 years.
The new levy will generate over $1.4 million at a rate of 1 mill per $1, which amounts to $35 for every $100,000 of property value.
The Anderson Park District says if the levy does not pass, the district will take out a revenue bond to replace Riverside Park’s field turf and will go into a “maintenance only mode.”
In addition, the park will not be able to make the improvements they have planned out, the district said.
Milford Exempted Village School District tax levy
Hamilton County residents in Milford will vote on whether they want to add a school levy to their tax bill or not.
The Milford Exempted Village School District Tax Levy, Issue 17, is asking Hamilton and Clermont County residents to vote in favor of a 5.99 mill rate (on average) for every $1. This rate amounts to $210 for each $100,000 of the county’s appraised value for five years.
The school district is proposing this levy for emergency requirements.
In total, the district would receive over $7.15 million based on the auditor’s estimate.
Village & Township issues
Issue 3: A tax levy to benefit the Village of Cleves
An additional tax levy will be voted on this year in Cleves as the village is looking for a way to better “benefit” the town.
Over the course of five years, the levy will collect $423,000 annually from residents at a rate of at most 7 mills. Residents will end up paying $245 for each $100,000 of the auditor’s appraised value, which will start in 2024 if it passes.
Issue 6: Renewing Golf Manor’s tax levy
The Village of Golf Manor is looking to renew its current tax levy of a 2 mill rate, amounting to $51 for each $100,000 worth of property for five years. The auditor estimates that $83,000 will be collected annually if the levy passes.
Issue 10: Tax levy renewal in Mariemont
Mariemont residents will vote on two tax levies this year, one of which is for the purpose of paying current operating expenses.
Issue 10 is a renewal of the village’s previous tax levy.
Residents will vote on whether they want to continue to pay $11 for every $100,000 of property annually for five years.
The auditor estimates that a total of $89,000 will be collected each year.
Issue 11: Tax levy renewal of the MariElders, Inc. in Mariemont
The non-profit senior center, MariElders in Mariemont, is on the ballot this year, and residents will decide if they want to continue paying taxes to help the small community.
As a non-profit, volunteers are a big part of what helps the organization function, such as people to drive residents to and from appointments, desk operators and more. Money and item donations are additional factors to ensure a happier lifestyle for MariElder residents.
Mariemont residents will vote on whether they want to continue to pay $9 for every $100,000 of property annually or not.
If the ordinance passes, it will begin in 2024 and end five years later.
Issue 12: Renewing Terrace Park’s tax levy
The Village of Terrace Park’s tax levy is up for vote this election year as residents will vote yes or no on the continuation of the village’s current cost of operations.
The community is being asked to pay 2.5 mills annually, equating to $76 for every $100,000.
Issue 13: Woodlawn’s municipal income tax ordinance
Woodlawn residents may have to pay a little bit more in taxes come 2024 if Issue 13 passes this November.
The ordinance seeks a .3% tax increase on people’s income for five years. The additional money will go toward the construction, repair and maintenance of streets, roads, curbs, and sidewalks in the village.
Issue 14: An additional tax levy to benefit the Colerain Township Police Department
The Colerain Township police are looking for residents to vote yes on Issue 14, an additional tax levy that will help with the operation and maintenance of the department.
If the levy passes, the police department will collect $6.3 million annually as residents will pay $163 per $100,000 in property value.
According to Colerain Township Police Department’s 2023 finances, 72.12% of revenue comes from property and local taxes, contributing a little over $6.06 million to their budget. Nearly $4 million of that goes toward salaries.
From 2023-2027, police expenses only go up from there.
Issue 15: An additional tax levy to fund Delhi Township fire & medical services
Delhi Township residents will get to vote for or against an additional tax levy that will help provide for and maintain fire and emergency medical services.
If the levy passes, the auditor estimates a little over $1 million will be collected each year at a rate of 1.99 mills. Residents will end up paying $70 for each $100,000 of property “for a continuing period of time,” the issue says.
Issue 16: A renewal & an increase for the Miami Township Waste District tax levy
Those living in Miami Township will have the option to not only renew its trash collection and disposable tax levy but also increase it by .5 mills.
Residents will end up paying $79 for every $100,000 of property for five years if the levy passes.
Towns that will vote on energy issues
Several villages and towns will vote on whether they want to aggregate either their electricity or gas.
But what does it mean to aggregate energy sources?
According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, aggregation allows residents to be a part of a buying group with the government. Some argue that this allows the officials to be able to lower rates for electricity, natural gas and water.
If any of the ordinances do pass, residents in those towns will have the option to opt out of the plan and stay with their supplier.
- Issue 4: Natural gas aggregation in Fairfax
- Issue 5: Electric aggregation in Fairfax
- Issue 7: Electric aggregation in Lincoln Heights
- Issue 8: Natural gas aggregation in Mariemont
- Issue 9: Electric aggregation in Mariemont
- Issue 26: Natural gas aggregation in North College Hill
- Issue 27: Electric aggregation in North College Hill
Residents can learn more about aggregation through PUCO’s interactive map and web information.
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