Gahanna Mayor’s Tax Plan Supported by Misleading Messaging

Gahanna City Council member Karen Angelou has questioned the “facts” supporting Mayor Becky Stinchcomb’s tax “reform” plan, coming to the conclusion that the mayor and her allies are trying to mislead Gahanna voters. Angelou’s conclusion seems to be supported by data from a recently leaked Ohio Regional Income Tax Authority (RITA) memo.

Supporters of Stinchcomb’s proposal to increase the local income tax rate, which would chiefly benefit the city parks department, would like residents who do not pay income taxes to vote in favor of raising taxes on a majority of those who do, but this fact is cleverly avoided by the campaign’s messaging.

“Let me tell you something that’s been very bothersome to me, during the sale of this particular thing — it’s being propagandized as ‘tax reform.’ It’s a tax increase,” Angelou told Media Trackers.

“I realized that, when figuring why we needed this – because when they say most people would be paying less — that they were including, from the Census, all residents. All residents do not pay income tax,” Angelou explained.

According to political action committee Citizens for A Strong Gahanna, whose treasurer is Gahanna Parks & Recreation Board Secretary Laurel Naegele, “approximately 57 percent of Gahanna residents will see their income taxes either decrease or stay the same” if Issue 4 is approved by local voters on May 7.

Citizens for a Strong Gahanna fails to mention that not all Gahanna residents are taxpayers; the group arrived at its 57 percent figure by including residents who pay no income taxes.

Based on RITA records, roughly 79 percent of Gahanna residents pay income taxes. Approximately 21 percent of Gahanna residents are either retired or unemployed and thus already pay no income taxes.

This means it is technically correct for supporters of Mayor Stinchcomb’s plan to say that a majority of the city’s residents would “see their income taxes either decrease or stay the same,” but only because a large portion of the population pays zero, regardless of the rate.

The Republican mayor’s proposal would result in a tax hike for an estimated 11,083 residents, which amounts to 56.6 percent of the city’s workforce and 44.4 percent of the city’s total adult population. An estimated 8,501 residents, the equivalent of 43.4 percent of the city’s workforce and 34.2 percent of the city’s total adult population, would see a lower tax bill.

In an email obtained by Media Trackers, Gahanna City Council Vice President Ryan Jolley — described by national left-wing activist group Progressive Majority as “a rising progressive star” who “helped flip control of Gahanna’s City Council to progressive control” – defended marketing materials which lumped residents who already pay no income taxes among those who would see no tax increase.

Jolley wrote, “those people are residents of Gahanna, and their income tax payable would not change under the proposed tax reform. Therefore, they belong to the class of ‘citizens who would not have a change/pay less,’ and are appropriately factored into the corresponding percentage of such citizens.”

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