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Published: Tuesday, 10/20/2009

Mayor makes case for tax, fee boosts

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner yesterday warned the two mayoral candidates and City Council members that they would be hard-pressed to avoid jacking up fees and taxes on Toledoans.

Mayoral candidates Keith Wilkowski and Mike Bell have come out against some of the mayor's ideas this year to raise money and balance the 2009 general fund budget.

Council has rejected most of the mayor's suggestions, saying it would be too much for taxpayers to endure during tough times.

Mr. Finkbeiner has for most of 2009 pushed council to increase the monthly trash-collection fee and slash the 100 percent income tax credit given to Toledoans who work and pay taxes elsewhere.

In a letter to Mr. Bell, Mr. Wilkowski, and the 12 councilmen, Mr. Finkbeiner put the blame on council for the year's remaining $7.8 million shortfall.

"If council had passed a fair refuse fee increase, and a 50 percent income tax credit ordinance early this year, Toledo would now have a balanced budget," Mr. Finkbeiner wrote.

The mayor also wrote: "It is both amazing and tragic that you fail to comprehend the consequences of the recession we are in."

If council had approved those measures by Oct. 1, the city could have collected an extra $2 million by Dec. 31 by cutting the income tax credit to zero and collected about $400,000 by increasing the monthly trash fee to $7 for recyclers and $10 for nonrecyclers.

For 2010, the trash-fee increase would mean an extra $8.2 million, and cutting the tax credit to zero would raise $12 million.

A majority of council on Sept. 1 rejected increasing the trash fee, even though it would have included mandates for a new recycling incentive program that offered coupons and gift certificates for groceries and other goods.

"He seems intent on raising taxes, and council wants to find creative ways to balance the budget without raising taxes," Councilman Steven Steel said regarding the mayor.

In his letter, the mayor also said they should consider increasing the payroll tax. Mr. Wilkowski said he has ruled out increasing Toledo's 2.25 percent income tax, but Mr. Bell has not ruled it out.



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