Toledo mayor proposes 0.25% income tax hike just for roads

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 6:42 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Lessons learned and another bite at the apple.

Toledo will go back to the voters this November for an income tax increase. It’s a different plan than the one voters rejected in March.

Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz says he heard voters' concerns and now has offered up something that might be more manageable.

It’s a twofold approach from the mayor this time around. One portion renews money for things like firefighters and police. The other would focus on roads.

“If ever a year was lived through that shows a need for police and fire, it’s 2020,” said Toledo Police Chief George Kral.

The pitch for Issue 3 is simple. If the 3/4% income tax is not renewed, then $57 million will be lost and Toledo’s mayor says hundreds of police and firefighters will be laid off.

“The last thing I want to do as chief is to take something away that we’re already providing,” said Kral.

Voters have approved that temporary 3/4% tax for about 40 years. New for 2020, voters will decide on a 1/4% income tax increase that will just pay for roads.

"Especially at this time with the virus and the impact on the economy, they just want those roads more than anything else and so we listened,” said Kapszukiewicz.

The March proposal was a 1/2% increase to pay for roads, police, fire and universal Pre-K. Voters said no to that plan. Kapszukiewicz says he got a few messages from voters in defeat.

“They felt the request was too large. It sought to do too many things. It’s not that the voters didn’t support those initiatives, they didn’t want them all at once,” said Mayor Kapszukiewicz.

If they both pass, Toledo’s income tax would be middle of the road for major Ohio cities but would still be higher than it is today. Will voters decide that’s how they want to spend their money?

“With anything people need to spend their money on ... I get it. I understand. We all have to make those decisions and this is one of those decisions that people will have to make, and they have to understand the possible consequences of it. Lots of people don’t think they’ll need police or fire service until they need us,” Toledo Fire Chief Brian Byrd said.

Issue 4 is the increase designated for roads. It will raise about $18 million per year to pave about 38 miles. It won’t do as many roads per year as the plan from the spring, but the mayor says he’s listening to what voters said they’d prefer in a plan.

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