CLEVELAND - You can’t have a world-class city without basic services. Police and firefighters cost money, so do parks and snow removal. All are at risk, according to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, if residents don’t get behind Issue 32, a half percent increase in the income tax rate appearing on the November ballot.
“This is the first income tax increase in 35 years,” Jackson told Fox8’s Lorrie Taylor.
The Mayor said Cleveland was still reeling from the recession of 2008 when lowered property values cost the city about $18 million in taxes; add to that the loss of another $23 million when the state of Ohio slashed nearly half of Cleveland’s funding. All told the city has been doing without $50 million dollars a year since the recession hit, according to Jackson.
“We can no longer save and cobble together the kind of dollars we need going into next year and the future to be able to provide the level of service that we provide,” said the Mayor.
Jackson insisted $40 million in cuts would have to be made to vital services in 2017 if voters said no to Issue 32.
60% of those reductions would most likely come from the city’s safety forces which account for 60% of the Cleveland’s budget. Basic services like street repair and snow removal would also suffer from hundreds of city workers losing their jobs.
“If we do that then the quality of life in our neighborhoods will not be there,” said the Mayor.
Only Clevelanders would be able to cast a vote for or against the levy, even though 80% of the revenue would come from people living outside the city.
“It’s taxation without representation so I think it’s very unfair,” said Tracy Jones, a resident of South Euclid.
Brian Sako, a Summit County resident echoed her feelings.
“Taxation with representation, I don’t know if it’s a very good idea, so I would probably be against it,” he told Taylor.
Opposition by suburbanites may not pose a problem to the levy’s success but name recognition might.
“Have you heard of Issue 32?”
“No I have not,” said Randalle Beasley.
“Have you heard of Issue 32?” asked Taylor.
“I can’t say that I have,” said Kraig, a Cleveland resident who declined to give his last name.
Mayor Jackson said a campaign was underway to educate the public about the proposed increase in the city’s income tax from 2% to 2.5%. He said the additional tax would not be assessed on social security, pension, disability, interest or dividend income.