With the sequester going into effect, some Wright-Patt civilian employees will face a tough question on the May ballot. Will they vote themselves an income tax after recently being furloughed and losing a portion of their pay? Currently civilian employees who work at Wright-Patt and live in the city of Beavercreek pay no city income tax. A vote of “yes” on Beavercreek’s city income tax measure would change that.

Notification of Wright-Patt civilian employees began on February 20 according to information on the base website. Civilian employees were told they would be furloughed an average of one day per week for 22 weeks starting April 25. The furloughs represent a 20% cut in pay for each of the employees affected.

Just 13 days after the furloughs begin on April 25, many of those same civilian employees who live in Beavercreek will be asked to vote on a 1.5% city income tax on the May 7 ballot. The question some wonder is whether employees who have been recently furloughed would vote themselves a tax increase? Also, how will their family members vote? And what about their friends and neighbors?

It’s hard to get exact numbers on how many Wright-Patt civilian employees live in Beavercreek, but in a 2011 survey by Fallon Research commissioned by the city, 14.8% of employed respondents surveyed said they worked at a military base. A city income tax on these employees alone could net the city millions in tax revenue.

In 2011, the annual payroll for civilian employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was nearly 1.5 billion dollars ($1,496,671,100 according to an economic impact study conducted by the base). The same study also reported an additional 387 million dollars in payroll for contracted civilian and business ($387,115,799).

Together the annual payroll for civilian workers associated with the base in 2011 was over 1.8 billion dollars ($1,883,786,879). According to the 2011 survey by Fallon Research, 14.8% of employed city residents surveyed said they worked at a military base. If that number is an indicator of the civilian workers who live in Beavercreek then the city could potentially gain millions from taxing them alone with the proposed new 1.5% city income tax.

No one knows for sure how heavy the sequester may rest on the minds of these voters when they enter the voting booth in May. But considering that in 2011 Wright-Patterson AFB employed over 16,000 civilians and tax increase votes usually win or lose by narrow margins in Beavercreek, it’s safe to say that city income tax advocates may have cause for concern.

Sources: 2011 Economic Impact Analysis Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (See page 6),Citizen Satisfaction Survey for the City of Beavercreek 12/5–12/7/2011 by Fallon Research & Communications, Inc (See question No 31 on the survey). Photos © Beavercreek Record