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October 31, 2009
Salem News

The real tax increase numbers

To the editor:

If you want to confuse people, use fractions or percentages.

Using the phrase it is "only a 1/2 percent increase in the city income tax rate" is accurate but confusing for many.

A simple way to determine how much additional tax Salem is asking from you is to look at your 2008 W2 form in box 19. Divide by two. That is how much extra the city wants you to pay.

The real increase is a 50 percent increase in what taxpayers have paid in the past. So if you make $30,000 per year, they are asking you for an additional $150.

The city wants you to pay 50 percent more in spite of the fact that in 2008 the city collected a record amount in city income tax revenue. Yet it still wasn't enough to pay operating expenses and make the necessary capital improvements.

Recent letters appealing to retirees, Social Security recipients, and welfare beneficiaries to vote in favor of the tax since they will not have to pay it may be factually accurate, but is it moral? Those paying the tax will be people who work. Those who work in the city and live elsewhere or city residents who work anywhere are being asked to pay the 50 percent increase.

It used to be said that if you want to do away with something, tax it. Will taxing wage earners drive them away?

This has certainly been the case in Warren and Youngstown. Warren's tax rate is 2 percent and Youngstown's is 2.75 percent yet there are constant TV news reports about police and fire layoffs in those communities and businesses closing and moving elsewhere. Granted the income tax rate is not these cities' only problem.

But Salem is betting that people will not make a decision based on the difference in the income tax rates. That is like a gas station in Salem betting people will not drive across town to save 10 cents a gallon on gas.

When you vote Tuesday, just don't think about how this will affect you. Think about your neighbor and think about who will buy their house if they move out.



A case of it being easier to switch

To the editor:

There used to be an old cigarette commercial on TV with the theme it is better "to fight than switch" when talking about brand loyalty.

In Salem today, we have a Republican mayor who is backing a proposal for an incredible 50 percent increase in the city income tax.

One might have expected as much from the other party brand, but apparently it is easier to "switch" than "fight."

Instead of fighting for limited government and perhaps consolidation of certain government services in order to rein in runaway contractual obligations for wage and benefit expenses, it is apparently easier to side with the party of tax and spend.

Instead of recognizing that our city historically receives more tax revenues every year and fighting to maintain the same rate of taxation, it is easier to switch party brand and govern like the council majority.

Council has already siphoned off capital funds by virtue of altering the general fund ratio of capital to operations.

Only 15 percent of the general fund now goes toward capital improvements with 85 percent being spent on operations, mainly wages and benefits. I am sure the portion for operations will be headed higher if those in control have their way, especially if given a new source of capital funding.

Hence it is quite easy to envision that, if this massive tax increase were implemented, the general fund ratio would soon change to 100 percent for operations and zero for capital improvements because, after all, council and the mayor will have a new tax windfall earmarked for capital projects. Fiscal discipline will then be completely thrown out the window in favor of more wages and benefits.

Then in 2013 when the new tax increase is set to expire, imagine what will happen?

There will be a (government) outcry for its renewal because we will already be spending 100 percent of the general fund on operations, and there will be no going back to even 15 percent for capital without an overwhelming gnashing of teeth. It simply wouldn't happen.

It is hoped that most voters understand this and will therefore reject the massive and unjustified 50 percent tax increase proposal.

It is too bad the majority of our leaders would rather "switch" from sound management, than "fight" for the taxpayers.



A 'yes' vote for Issue 2

To the editor:

I knew the opposition would be coming - I just did not think the media ads rebuttal for a vote yes on Issue 2 would be so slanderous with false information.

The Livestock Care Standards Board will put in place standards to keep our foods safe! Isn't that what this issue is all about? Don't be misled with false statements. Vote "yes" on Issue 2.


North Lima

Supports a change in council

To the editor:

I am writing this open letter to the public to explain why I feel we need a newly-elected president of Salem City Council.

I have known the current council president for several years and I have watched the council meetings on television, and I found him to have an attitude of being uncivil to members of council and to the residents that have attended meetings to address council on whatever their concerns may be.

His behavior is very unpleasant and unprofessional of an elected official. He also limits the time you can speak and seems to get very upset if council meetings are longer than 25 minutes.

His interruptions do not give council members time to discuss important issues that matter to the community. Behavior like this reflects on the whole community, and I feel new residents and businesses will think twice about moving to Salem.

He also supports a tax increase on hard-working Salemites.

Salem tax payers you deserve better representation from your council president and the respect and courtesy will come when you give him an attitude adjustment on Nov. 3 when you vote for the other candidate.





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