As you know, I have supported the .5% tax increase. In fact, I think we would have had a much better chance of passing a .25% in the fall, during the mayoral election, but the need is clearly present and the energy and effort has been consistently persistent this winter to explain the need for the new tax.
It is very difficult to pass a tax in Elyria, particularly when people do not trust the administration with regard to how the money will be spent. Council has tried to make it clear that it, at least, is trustworthy in this regard. The campaign is made much harder, however, when the Mayor writes a column misrepresenting, once again, key facts about how we got here. I was instrumental in the passage of a Charter Amendment that prevented the City from reducing the Income Tax Credit without a prior vote of the people. This prevented City Council from having the ability to reduce the Income Tax Credit and double tax those who work outside of the City without a vote. The Mayor, however, falsely represented the Charter Amendment as "eliminat[ing] the City of Elyria's ability to tax Elyria residents who work outside the city unlesss the city they work in has a higher tax rate." False. There was a separate ballot measure, Issue 14, asking the residents of Elyria to KEEP the reduction that Council had unilaterally put into place earlier that year, the City Income Tax Credit Rollback. The residents of Elyria voted NO. The impact of that City Income Tax Credit Rollback to 50% by Council was such that A family earning $75,000 per year outside of the City of Elyria was forced, without any vote, to pay an additional $656 in local income taxes. It was patently unfair and I led a team to correct the situation. The Mayor seems to forget the more than 2100 registered voters who signed the petitions to support the Charter Amendment and the hard work of those local residents who circulated the petitions, including her own Safety Service Director, Mary Siwierka. The Mayor herself announced her support for the Charter Amendment the first time she ran against Bill Grace. How quickly we forget. These types of misrepresentations, inaccuracies and shifting positions on issues are exactly why it is difficult to gain any credibility with our residents.
Despite all of this, I urge residents to vote Yes on Issue 6. Due to the leadership's absolute failure to make key cuts over the past ten years or to make any significant advances or efforts in economic development, we have lagged behind many of our neighboring communities. We had already cut out most of our building maintenance and equipment expenditures, except for key safety equipment, when the State of Ohio significantly reduced the money we get back from the State through the Local Government Fund, putting our City into financial crisis mode. Council promises to spend this money on tangible items that are desperately needed for the City, but also to use a portion to actively market the City so that we can have hope of economic development for the future. Please invest back into our City with this .5% income tax increase, which is greatly offset by the 6.3% REDUCTION in 2015 from the State of Ohio 2014 rate. (See, State of Ohio Department of Taxation "What's New in 2015," reporting: Tax Rate Reduction. The income tax rate has been reduced by 6.3% compared to the 2014 rates.)