Mayor, Councilmen urge support for 3/4 percent payroll taxWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Mayor Mike Bell and the Toledo City Council gathered Jan. 31 in support of Issue 1, which if passed would renew the city’s ¾ percent payroll tax.
The “extremely important” tax helps support city services like the police and fire departments, Bell said during a news conference outside of the council chambers.
If passed, the renewal is expected to provide more than $51 million to city coffers. To put that in perspective, Bell said that the fire department has a budget of $59 million.
“It’s very important that citizens and voters take a good look at this issue,” said Republican Councilman George Sarantou.
“This levy has been with us since 1982,” Bell said. Rather than make the tax permanent, Bell added that the administration wanted to give voters the option to renew it every four years.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” he said. “We are very much excited to be able to move forward.”
When the levy first appeared, it was designated for fire, police and refuse services. Although the city’s refuse collection was privatized over the summer, Council President Joe McNamara said $4.4 million still comes out of the city’s general fund to pay for it.
Passing the levy is “vitally important” to city services, McNamara said. He added that the issue is nonpartisan and has the support of both parties on council.
“You also have to understand we’re still recovering from the Great Recession,” Sarantou said.
Bell urged voters to turn out for the election. “We cannot do it without public support,” he emphasized. Less than 5 percent of registered voters came out for the Sept. 13 primary.
Council voted that the levy would appear on the March 6 primary ballot late last year. To learn more, visit http://co.lucas.oh.us/index.aspx?NID=74.