Sykes wants city to consider Sin Tax - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Sykes wants city to consider Sin Tax

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Smokers in Toledo are the target of what could be a sin tax imposed by the city.   But can the city pass such a tax?

Toledo needs money to balance it's budget and, it has become popular for governments to raise money by imposing what  sin taxes on items like snack foods, sodas and cigarettes.

City councilman Larry Sykes (D) wants Toledo to consider a sin tax on cigarette products to raise money for the budget but the idea may not work.

City councilman Larry Sykes (D) asked the  finance department to investigate imposing a cigarette sin tax.

He told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, "You could get 25-cents on pack of cigarettes or cigars or a dime or something like that.  We could increase our revenue."

Sykes says that money could fund pools in the summer, kids recreational activities, even homeless shelters.

Taxpayer, and non-smoker, Catarino Hernandez thinks a sin tax is a good idea.  He says, "As long as the money is going to a good cause, I wouldn't disagree with it at all."

Even a smoker like Jimmy Davis sees a benefit to charging him more per pack.  "I believe the city should put taxes on cigarettes because we need more jobs and more income but that's a lot of people that smoke who can't afford."

There is a problem with the sin tax idea:  the city cannot impose a sin tax.  A sin tax is essentially a sales tax and only the County can increase the sales tax."

And Lucas County  commissioner Pete Gerken (D) says, a sin tax is not the way to pay for government.  He says
"It hurts poor people more than rich people.  It doesn't stimulate the economy, in general, unless it's for a specific purpose."

For instance, Cuyahoga County voters approved a sin tax to pay to build several sports arenas.

But Toledo has no project targetted for any sin tax and voters would have to approve one, anyway.

Voters like Valerie Clare would turn thumbs down to paying more for her pack of cigarettes saying, "I think you're taking it out on people who indulge. It's almost discriminatory."

And the city's finance director says the state should use its surplus to help.   George Sarantou told 13abc, "(The state has) a billion and a half dollars and I think it's time for them to say, OK, here's what we can do to help out cities, in particular, Toledo."

And that may be necessary because with regard to a sin tax, Toledo cannot help itself.

So this sin tax idea won't survive.

The city cannot impose it, voters probably wouldn't approve it, and the county doesn't seem interested at all.

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