TOLEDO (WTVG) - The City of Toledo's much debated Issue 1 may have faced its first loss on the ballot. The 1.25% income tax levy received 55% of the votes cast in the state's unprecedented vote-by-mail election. Forty-four percent of voters cast their ballot in favor of the measure.
These results are still unofficial. The vote-by-mail election allowed voters to cast ballots so long as they were postmarked by April 27, or dropped off in person by 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Many of those late ballots will not be counted for some time, at which point the Ohio Secretary of State's Office will provide official, final tallies in this and other contested races.
Issue 1 was hotly contested, raising Toledo's total income tax rate to 2.75% for the next decade, one of the highest rates in the state. Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz has said the increase would cost the average working person in Toledo an extra $8 per paycheck.
In a statement released Wednesday morning, Kapszukiewicz said the issue looked like it would pass before the election was postponed from its original March 17 date.
"But in the last 40 days, the world has turned upside down," he said in a statement. "I know Toledoans want their roads fixed, but I don’t blame them for being cautious with their own money in these uncertain times.
"As the COVID-19 crisis deepened, our residents and business owners faced great uncertainty. They are not feeling secure, many have been laid off, and the election was held amid the crisis, so the outcome is not surprising."
The money from Issue 1 was supposed to help fund a number of city-wise projects, such as road improvements, safety services, Universal Pre-K, and parks.
During his state of the city address in late January, Kapszukiewicz said Toledo would spend $40 million per year for 10 years to repair residential roads -- or 72 miles of streets each year.
Another $1.5 million annually was to be spent on pools and parks, and it would have allowed Toledo Police and Toledo Fire & Rescue to afford to new vehicles and equipment.
"Moving forward, this city must find a better way to fix our roads, take care of our infrastructure, and provide the services this city and its residents need," Kapszukiewicz said in the statement. "Our focus in the near future will be to deal with the health and welfare of our city as we deal with COVID-19.
"Toledo can do big things, and we have faced even tougher challenges in the past. I look forward to working with Council and our residents to chart a path toward the future."
The issue faced challenges from Lucas County Republicans, who questioned the need for a new tax while fearing its passage would harm jobs and people who work in Toledo but don't live in the city.
In a February poll on the 13abc Facebook page, 87 percent of responders did not support the issue, out of nearly 2,000 people who voted in the unofficial poll.
Even a national publication came out and voiced opposition to Issue 1. Forbes magazine said officials were spreading misinformation to get the measure passed.