By Frank Lewis
Despite heavy opposition from most of Portsmouth City Council, Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson continues to oppose efforts to reduce the city income tax credit given to people who live in Portsmouth and work in other jurisdictions where taxes are collected, by 50 percent.
After the Auditor of State’s Office apparently looked unfavorably upon the city when it failed to pass the credit reduction, Council chose to run the legislation back through, and it appears it has the votes for passage.
One of the proponents of the legislation is Fourth Ward Councilman and Acting Mayor Jim Kalb who read a statement he had prepared.
“I understand some of the Council is against this ordinance because it will be an increase in taxes paid by some,” Kalb read. “I want to once again share what I consider important facts about this ordinance. Passing this ordinance will only affect about five percent of the taxpayers in Portsmouth. It’s a minimal increase amounting to about $300 a year for someone with a $30,000 salary. I feel that it is unfair for this five percent of the taxpayers to enjoy the benefits, the fire and police protection, using our streets, and enjoying our parks and recreation facilities at no cost to them.”
The reintroduction of the bill has not stopped Keven E. Johnson from crusading for the people he says have to travel to other cities to find jobs.
“I don’t believe in balancing the budget on the taxpayers backs this way,” Kevin E. Johnson said. “You spoke of it being $300 on a $30,000 income. I, for one, believe that we are better off to leave the $300 in that individual’s pocket and let them choose how to spend it then us spend it for them.”
Kevin E. Johnson acknowledged that he respects City Manager Derek Allen who brought the legislation to Council in the first place.
“This has no reflection on the city manager. I applaud our city manager and the job that he’s doing,” Kevin E. Johnson said. “There’s going to be times that we’re going to disagree and this is one of those times. I again will be voting against it. I have heard from my constituents. Several voiced their concerns that they too are against it. So I will be voting against it.”
By a 5-1 vote, Council chose to give the ordinance a first reading. The lone dissenting vote was cast by Sixth Ward Councilman Jeff Kleha.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.