Spring has turned into Summer and these issues may linger into the Fall.
April 23, 2009
Toledo Blade - City council facing votes to increase city revenue
"The money is intended to help bridge a budget deficit projected at $20.7 million."
Next week's votes by council could lead to more city decay, the continual Detroitification of Toledo:
- Finkbeiner administration proposal to begin billing homeowner insurance policies $500 to $1,000 for responding to a structure fire.
- Council could also vote next week to collect more income taxes from Toledoans who work outside the city
- raise the city's monthly refuse fee from $7 to $10 for people who do not recycle and from $2 to $7 for those who do.
Fees, assessments, and revenue enhancements are polite, political code terms for taxes.
The refuse fee passed by council in March 2007 is a new city tax.
- Refuse fee lawsuit against City of Toledo - August 2008 Update
- Refuse fee lawsuit against City of Toledo - April 2009 Update
- Trash Tax Lawsuit and Class Action - Apr 19, 2009 :
About the middle bullet point at the top of this page, concerning next week's council votes, council unanimously voted against halving the reciprocity tax back in early March.
Mar 10, 2009 Toledo Blade story :
The mayor also said the city needs to slash costs for refuse pickup, but stressed that the bulk of closing a $10 million deficit for 2009 would come from cutting 50 percent of the income tax credit for residents employed .
A day after hearing from two dozen opponents, council last week rejected the mayor's proposal to generate $5.2 million through the end of 2009 by cutting the income tax credit.
All 11 councilmen present voted against the plan. Frank Szollosi was not present but said he also would have voted no. Councilmen Wilma Brown, D. Michael Collins, Mike Craig, Lindsay Webb, Phillip Copeland, Joe McNamara, Tom Waniewski, George Sarantou, and Mr. Szollosi each said last night that the mayor was mistaken and that they had not reconsidered their stances. Councilmen Michael Ashford and Betty Shultz could not be reached for comment.
"From what I have heard and the e-mails I have received I will not vote for it," Mrs. Brown said. Mr. Collins said there are other alternatives to cutting the tax credit. "I do not believe reciprocity, as it is defined, is in the best interests because it will be the stimulus to create a reason to leave the city of Toledo and escape the tax situation," Mr. Collins said. "It may be palatable in bedroom communities. ‚Ä¶ I think we need to look for creative solutions how to go about this.""The reciprocity issue definitely needs to be revisited," he said. "[It] impacts 15 percent of Toledoans who are paying about one-sixth of what the 85 percent are paying for public safety services coming into their neighborhood."
I was surprised and impressed that council voted against this idea. I applauded council for bucking the mayor and having common sense. In early March, that is. But I figured this idea by Carty was not totally dead. And now it has resurrected for another vote.
It's an obscene insult to say Toledoans who earn a living outside the city are not paying their fair share for the services the city provides.
We actually live in Toledo, a city that has been losing population for forty years, despite the recent claims by the delusional mayor.
April 2007 comment by former Toledo City Council candidate Karen Shanahan:
My wife and I did the opposite. We lived outside Toledo for a number of years and then moved into Toledo. A reverse migration. It seems the fad around here is to live in Toledo first and then move outside the city. Our jobs have always existed outside Toledo. We are both transplants to this region. And Carty wants to penalize us for moving into and living in a city that is hemorrhaging businesses and residents.
We pay taxes that support Toledo. Annually, we spend a lot of money, supporting small, locally-owned Toledo businesses. If council changes its mind and supports Carty's harmful legislation, that will be the last straw for us. Moving out of the city means our tax support and our spending power leaves Toledo.
And based upon our household income, the odds are high that the next inhabitants of our home will have a lower household income, which means less tax revenue for Toledo. And will the next inhabitants of our home be big fans of the small, local businesses in West Toledo, or will they be spending most of their money at chain stores?
From Toledo's Wikipedia entry about its population numbers:
1920 : 243,164
1930 : 290,718
1940 : 282,349
1950 : 303,616
1960 : 318,003
1970 : 383,818
1980 : 354,635 -7.6%
1990 : 332,943 -6.1%
2000 : 313,619 -5.8%
The 2010 census will most likely show Toledo's population to be around 295-298K. Carty believes Toledo's population has increased this decade. Ask the Toledo Public School system about this. Why is TPS closing schools? It's not just because of charter schools. It's because of Toledo's shrinking population.
In a June 2006 Toledo Blade story titled Toledo shrinks 13th-fastest of U.S. cities, census says; 1.1% population drop in '05 among worst in Ohio Toledo City councilman Frank Szollosi said:
"It's an indication that taxes are too high in Toledo"
If city government wants to attract citizens, reducing this income tax credit will do the opposite.
All three of these "revenue enhancement" shams listed at the top of this page validate my belief that suburban sprawl is not created by the suburbs. Sprawl is caused by the decaying urban center, and that decay is caused by idiotic political decisions. Detroitification.
Apr 28, 2009
Toledo Blade - Finkbeiner renews call to OK tax, fee hikes
Toledo Blade - Toledo City Council puts off vote on trash fee hike, income tax proposal - Good news, at least temporarily.
Apr 29, 2009
Toledo Blade - Toledo City Council says no to billing for fire calls - More good news, at least temporarily.
May 14, 2009
Toledo Free Press - Administration to resend fire billing proposal to council - I guess this numskull legislation is meant to attract new residents and businesses to Toledo.
May 19, 2009
Glass City Jungle - City puts fire fees back on the City Council Agenda
On April 29th this was before Toledo City Council - the ordinance failed:
Craig, McNamara, Sarantou, Sobczak, Szollosi, Brown - voted yes
Waniewski, Webb, Collins, Copeland - voted no -
It's not ironic. It's insane. It's the continual Detroitification of Toledo.
May 27, 2009
Fire Tax Plan Scrapped
Hope and Change may finally be arriving at Toledo government. Toledo City Council continues to surprise this spring.
The new fire tax was defeated yesterday by city council on a 10 to 2 vote. Last month, six council people voted for this new tax. This time, only SOBczak and Brown voted for this bad idea.
Congrats to the other ten Toledo City Council members and to those residents who complained about the proposed tax.
Toledo Blade - Toledo City Council rejects plan to charge for fire calls
Council President Mark Sobczak and Councilman Wilma Brown voted in favor of the plan, but the other 10 councilmen voted down the fee, which would have generated about $500,000 through the end of 2009.
"I still think this continues to be an attack on homeowners," Councilman Michael Ashford said before the vote. Mr. Sobczak said the city is "$20 million-plus in the hole" and would need to put into effect some even more onerous measures at the end of the year if council doesn't soon find ways to increase revenues or slash expenses.
In lieu of the fire fee and the mayor's other proposed "revenue enhancements," Councilman Frank Szollosi suggested council consider legislation he first drafted months ago in another form that would implement up to 263 additional layoffs if the city's unions refuse to make concessions. Among the layoffs would be 131 police officers in addition to the 75 laid off on May 1, 41 firefighters, and 91 civilian employees. His original plan called for as many as 341 city workers to get layoff notices - a move Mr. Szollosi said would force the administration and the unions to negotiate concessions.Robert Reinbolt, the mayor's chief of staff, said council is running out of options with its repeated dismissal of the administration's plans.
Mayor Finkbeiner's proposals to bring in more revenues have languished for months without council authorization. The mayor is also pressing council to increase the city's refuse fee to $10 for people who do not recycle and to $7 for those who do. The fee changed May 1 under a previously approved structure to $8.50 a month for those who don't recycle and $1 for those who do. Mr. Finkbeiner also wants to generate more than $3 million by cutting in half the income-tax credit for Toledoans who work outside the city.
As one intelligent council person said recently, "We can't tax our way out of debt."
Adding new taxes and increasing existing taxes will NOT attract new businesses and new residents. It WILL cause existing Toledo businesses and residents to flee.
More about the potentially destructive fire tax bill that was defeated:
Even with the assurances of the Finkbeiner administration, the proposed legislation would technically allow the city to bill homeowners directly. "The concept of soft-billing is very disingenuous," Councilman D. Michael Collins said.Mary Bonelli, spokesman for the Ohio Insurance Institute in Columbus, said a study conducted based on insurance companies writing nearly 93 percent of the homeowners insurance coverage in the Toledo area found that more than 41 percent do not provide such fee coverage when responding to a fire. "Regardless of what's being said, the ordinance as written states that local homeowners are responsible for any fire-related expenses not covered by insurance," she said.
Would not bill homeowners, eh? Then why does the wording in this new fire tax plan say it WILL bill homeowners if their insurance company does not pay? SOBczak also said homeowners would not be billed, but SOBczak refused to change the wording of the bill. Scam artists.
I believe if this bill would have passed, then billing homeowners would have been selectively enforced, depending upon the homeowners' household income. If the insurance company would not pay, and if a low-income household, then the city would not charge the homeowner. But if the household had a "decent" household income, then the city would charge the homeowner. That's why the wording was not changed, in my opinion.
Past related threads:
- Moronic: Toledo Fire Department proposed fees
- Szollosi wants disgruntled Toledo taxpayers to demand no new taxes
June 10, 2009
Jun 10, 2009 Toledo Blade story about Mayor Carty attending last night's city council meeting where the mayor continues to advance his plan to raise taxes in order to solve the city's budget problems. What a dingbat. Higher taxes will lead to fewer residents and a continual decrease in tax revenue collections for the city and more budget problems in the future.
"You listen to who you want to listen to," he said.
Councilman Joe McNamara has urged the mayor to make use of his seat at the council dais to improve communications between his office and the 12 members of council. The mayor updated council on the budget situation and again pressed for passage of two revenue increase measures. He lowered the estimate of the deficit remaining in 2009 from about $15 million to $12,560,771.
"Now is where we've got to step up with regard to labor negotiations, and council's got to understand that enhancements are also needed or else it won't get balanced," Mr. Finkbeiner said. According to the presentation, the concessions the mayor is seeking from police and fire unions and Toledo Municipal Court would lower the deficit by $5.7 million in 2009.The remaining $6.8 million of the deficit would be made up by cutting the 100 percent tax credit given to Toledo residents who work and pay taxes in another city, by raising the refuse fee, and by shifting money from the capital improvements fund into the operating budget.
Jun 17, 2009
Toledo Blade - $120 fee proposed for garbage containers
Jul, 18, 2009
"I again respectfully request that you bring to a vote and pass at council's July 21, 2009 meeting the two items of legislation."
Councilman George Sarantou says voters could drastically change the city's budget deficit by passing the "Safety First" plan on the September ballot. It would allow council to move money around, filling almost all of the deficit. "I think we can find other savings before we need to go down the route of raising taxes and raising fees," says councilman George Sarantou."Carty's tax increases? It's hogwash. We've been telling him it's hogwash all year," says councilman Frank Szsollsi. "There are ways to close this budget deficit without raising taxes." Councilman Steve Steel says, "I think it's the wrong time to do it, and I think it sends the wrong message in terms of what we're trying to do." By phone, Council President Joe McNamara said he doesn't think the mayor will have enough support on council to raise taxes, meaning your city bills will likely stay the same.
Council needs to maintain its spine on these issues. No new taxes.
The good, bad, and ugly news ...
- Council to vote on trash fee
- Szollosi says State Audit is preferable to tax hike
- McNamara proposes a Recycling bank...and a higher trash tax
- Peter Silverman's Letter-to-the-Editor Toledo Blade
- Mayor's letter takes council to task for budget deficit
- Mayor rips Toledo City Council for delays on deficit
- Toledo mayor flip-flops on 'Safety First Plan'
Way to go Frank Szollosi. Too bad he's not running for re-election this fall. By not depending upon support from political machines, one is able to think independently and honestly.
"Satisfaction is not a word I would use in this debate," Mr. Szollosi said after his successful maneuver that avoided a vote altogether. "There are so many people hurting in this city, the last thing they need is for the city and the mayor to reach into their pockets more when we have failed to live within our means," he said.
Mr. Szollosi was joined by Councilman D. Michael Collins in leaving council chambers last night when the time finally came to vote on the trash fee increase. Council rules require seven affirmative votes to approve a measure.
On Sept. 1, council voted down the trash fee increase, with five in favor and six against. Voting in favor of the trash fee increase and rewards program were Mr. McNamara, Wilma Brown, Phillip Copeland, George Sarantou, and Steven Steel. Voting against were Mr. Collins, Tom Waniewski, Lindsay Webb, Michael Ashford, Mike Craig, and Betty Shultz.
[Shultz] said last night she intended to change her vote to yes, which would have made the split six in favor of the increase and six opposed. Mrs. Shultz said she did not think through the increase when it came up for a vote four weeks ago and also that she did not want to leave a legacy that included a "bankrupt city."
The change would have granted Mayor Finkbeiner's longstanding request to increase the refuse fee to $10 a month from $8.50 for those who don't recycle and to $7 a month from $1 for those who do recycle. But it also would have required creation of a recycling rewards program by April 1.
RecycleBank, a company that establishes reward programs in cities throughout the country, offered to run the program for a fee of $6 to $8 per household per year. The average Toledoan could receive incentives worth $240 a year for participating in the program, the company said.Mr. McNamara said he supported the fee increase to help reduce the city's deficit, which currently stands at about $7.8 million with just three months remaining in 2009. If the fee had been increased, it would have generated an additional $363,000 through Dec. 31 and a total of $8.2 million for 2010.
Czarty's tie-breaking vote would have increased our taxes, which implies government has done ALL it can to help balance the budget, which is not true. And it seems Frank's action worked, at least for a little while longer.
Sep 30/Oct 1, 2009 WSPD story titled Council President Believes Trash Issue is 'Dead' :
Hiring more tax collectors obviously means growing government, but if the end result means more money for Toledo, then it seems like an idea that should have been implemented long ago. Streamlining city services. Wow, what a concept.
Oct 1, 2009 Toledo Blade story titled Census Bureau report lists Toledo in Top 10 of downtrodden in 2008
It's not a good idea to raise taxes like Czarty and some on council wants.
Oct 3, 2009 Thurbers Thoughts posting titled What 'duties' did Szollosi and Collins duck? where Maggie Thurber highlights where the Blade editorial board lacks intelligence and is harmful to Toledo.
I, however, believe that council's duty is to us, the taxpayers and citizens of Toledo. We have spoken loudly and clearly enough that at least half of council understands that obligation and was willing to vote against a tax increase, especially in these difficult economic times.
If the only way that Collins and Szollosi could fulfill their duty to the TAXPAYERS was to walk out and, therefore, prevent a tie vote that would have resulted in a tax increase, then kudos to them for using this procedure to protect our wallets!
Their 'higher' duty is to represent their constituents, not to perpetuate a bloated, bureaucratic, overspending Toledo government that doesn't understand how to truly live within their means - or, rather, OUR means.
I don't, for a minute, believe that these two members of council don't want to balance the budget, as the editorial claims. They do want a balanced budget - they just want to do it via means other than additional taxation. And they should be praised for this approach, rather than vilified by The Blade and the mayor for not allowing a tax increase to go through.I'm not sure, but has The Blade ever met a tax increase, fee increase, or property levy it didn't like? Would their record show they consistently support increasing the costs, scope and size of government, to the detriment of those of us who pay the bills? Could their past and current positions on such matters be part of the problem for why people flee this area for lower-cost/better-service jurisdictions and why politicians believe they'll have 'cover' for lack of fiscal prudence?
The Blade is propped up by other entities under the Block Communications umbrella. The Blade has not made a profit since the early 1980s. So the Blade has no understanding of budgets and managing money and living within one's means.
The Blade editors live in a vacuum that shelters the editorial board from reality. Their windows are opaque, so they have no view of what's happening in Toledo even though the decline of Toledo is reported in their paper. The editors should try reading their own news stories. Or better, they should try comprehending their own news stories.
Four big problems to Toledo over the years have been bad government decisions, a failing public school system, an apathetic citizenry, and misguided, harmful, and unfortunately influential opinions from the Blade editorial board.
The less relevant the Blade opinions and their slanted news stories become, the better off Toledo and the region will be.