Thursday, September 2, 2004

City property tax rollback on ballot

By Kevin Aldridge
Enquirer staff writer

Cincinnati City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance Wednesday to put a property tax rollback initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Council's action was a formality required under the city charter. A group of Republicans - calling itself "Support Homeownership" - collected the required 6,771 signatures and filed petitions with the clerk of council a week ago.

It is now up to voters to decide if they want to phase out the city's 5-mill property tax by 10 percent a year over 10 years.

State Rep. Tom Brinkman, R-Mount Lookout, said the issue was placed on the ballot because of the city's declining population and because council spends too much money.

"We are in an economic death spiral," Brinkman told council members. "You spend too much on wasteful and ridiculous projects. You need to stop the tax abatements and the giveaways to big corporations and start taking care of the people who live in this city."

Before passing the ordinance, council members rejected a motion for a similar tax proposal sponsored by Councilman Pat DeWine. The proposal called for an elimination of the city's property tax over eight years.

"Schools, crime and taxes, that is why people are leaving," DeWine said. "Not too many places even have this special kind of city charter property tax. We have a 2.1 percent earnings tax and there is no reason folks should have to pay a special property tax as well."

"There is a lot of misinformation going around about the property tax," Mayor Charlie Luken said. "It is being portrayed that the city is receiving all the money when only about 15 percent of the property tax goes to the city. The balance goes to schools and levies put on the ballot by county commissioners."

Vice Mayor Alicia Reece said she opposed the rollback because it "binds future councils."


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