By Frank Lewis
Citizens of Portsmouth who work in other jurisdictions where they also pay income tax will not have their Portsmouth tax credit reduced after all. A vote to cut the tax credit in half failed to get the required four votes Monday night and died in its third and final reading.
Vice-Mayor Kevin W. Johnson called for passage as a routine part of his duties as items come up for consideration and Second Ward Councilman Rich Saddler started off the discussion.
“I know there’s probably some people that’s opposed to this,” Saddler said. “But with the financial state of our city, I think this is something that is needed. As a person, as well, that works out of town and pays in another city, this will be affecting me as well. Do I like it? No, I don’t. But I do understand and I can foresee what it is needed for and we need to be able to capture every dime that we can before we fall off what I call this financial cliff, which is what the city has been on for quite some time.”
From the very first time the option was brought to City Council’s attention by City Manager Derek Allen, Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson has been opposed and made no attempt to hide his disdain for what he considers inequality in taxation.
“I’ve been against this when it was first introduced and I remain against this,” Kevin E. Johnson said. “I don’t believe this is fair. You’re going to have people paying more taxes than their neighbors. We’re going to penalize them because they have had to seek employment out of town and I just don’t think this is fair. So I will continue as I did from day one, even if I’m the lone vote. I will vote against this.”
He did vote against it, but he was not alone. Kevin W. Johnson and outgoing mayor and Sixth Ward Councilman Steve Sturgill chimed in with nay votes, making the final vote count 3-3. Under City Charter protocol, anything being considered requires four votes for passage. So citizens of Portsmouth who work in places like New Boston will continue to receive 100 percent credit on their city income taxes when they pay to another municipality.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.