Rec group proposes earned income tax levy

Proposal includes $10 million for additional ice rink

By Melanie Yingst -

TROY — The Operation Recreation 2020 organization presented a new proposal to raise funds for an expanded recreation initiative seeking an 0.25 percent earned income tax levy on the May 2017 ballot, including a second sheet of ice with a projected cost of $10 million, to the Troy Recreation Board and the Board of Park Commissioners on Tuesday.

After an hour of discussion and presentations, both boards deferred their recommendations of a levy option – a five-year or a 10-year plan – to city council.

The new proposal includes expanded project features of the initial recreation proposal presented this fall with the 2.1-mills property tax levy.

ORLC chairman and council member Bobby Phillips led the presentations. Members of the Troy baseball, hockey, ice skating and soccer organizations and Troy Senior Citizens Center director and other recreational program members spoke in favor of the new proposal.

Board of Park Ccommissioners President Al Kappers said he was initially disappointed to see the private donor support goal drop from $4 million to $1.5 million, but said he supported the projects and the new funding formula.

“I’m totally committed to the recreational aspect of this community, I wouldn’t be here if I weren’t, I’m disappointed in the amount of private contributions that have seemed to have gone down since the last go round. With that being said, I think it’s time for the citizens of the community to step up and the tax levy is a good way of going about doing that. It’s been a very long time since the citizens of the community have paid towards the recreation and parks,” said Kappers, noting the community contributed to the Hobart Arena project decades ago. “At this point in time, we’ve always looked to our ‘sugar daddies,’ the Troy Foundation, Hobart Brothers, the ITWs, the Hobart Corps., those types of funding agents. I think it’s a good idea to go ahead and at least approve this to be sent to be placed on the ballot for the citizens.”

In a letter to the board presidents, the members of the Operation Recreation Levy Committee (ORLC), stated, “Specifically, we are encouraging the Troy City Council to place a 0.25 percent increase in the city’s 1.75 percent rate (increase to 2 percent) for the sole purpose of providing approximately 85 percent of the total resources for this initiative.”

According to the draft presented to the boards, the ORLC’s preferred 10-year plan would raise $29.5 million plan over the decade of collection. The 10-year plan includes the projected $10 million second ice rink. The second plan is the five year, $17.375 million plan without the second sheet of ice.

The 10-year plan proposes $25.7 million will be raised by the 0.25 percent earned income tax if passed. The city of Troy pledged $1.86 million over the 10 years to the plan. An additional $840,000 in grants and $1.1 million in foundations and private pledges was also included.

The five-year plan proposes $12.85 million projected to be raised by the 0.25 percent earned income tax if passed. If the five-year plan is selected by city council, the city pledged $2.5 million in support with the same figures for grants and donations for a total of $17.375 million in projects during the five year collection.

On Nov. 7, Troy City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to withdraw the 10 year, 2.01-mill recreational property tax levy from the Nov. 8 ballot due to potentially conflicting language, which would have reduced the collection amount if it was passed. That levy would have raised approximately $8 million over a decade. No results were made public. The plan included improvements to expand Duke Park, renovations of the Miami Shores Golf Course and improvements to the Troy Senior Citizens Center building.

Similar recreation improvement to recreation facilities were part of Tuesday’s proposal at Duke Park including additional improvements of park infrastructure, Miami Shores Golf Course, Troy Senior Citizens Center with an addition to the initiative of a proposed $10 million second ice rink adjacent to the newly renovated Hobart Arena.

If passed, the 0.25 percent earned income tax would revert back to the 1.75 percent after the five or 10 year period of collection is complete.

Another reason the ORLC stated the earned income tax was the best approach was “an income tax only assesses earnings, thus affecting working Troy residents and non-residents and does not apply to retirement income;” and “revenues generated will reduce the initiative’s dependence on private contributions to $1.5 million from the previous goal of $4 million.”

The letter included several economic impact figures and feasibility study information to support the initiative.

Phillips said the ORLC felt it would be “double dipping” to rely heavily on organizations and private donors for the project.

Recreation board member Tom Dunn said he just received the new proposal and had several questions surrounding the plan.

Dunn, along with park board commissioner Levi Fox, both expressed their displeasure with the amount of time given to them to review the proposal, which Fox said he received Monday.

Both boards unanimously passed a motion to defer the selection of the five-and 10-year plan to council.

Proposal includes $10 million for additional ice rink

By Melanie Yingst

Follow Melanie on Twitter @Troydailynews

Follow Melanie on Twitter @Troydailynews