Mayor Wilcox urges CH voters to vote for Issue 53
Over the past four years, the state of Ohio has slashed the state’s local government fund and eliminated the inheritance tax that resulted in $7 million in cuts to the City of Cleveland Heights budget, leaving the city with a significant financial hole. We currently face a $2.6 million deficit for our 2016 budget.
We have done our best to offset these losses through belt tightening, staffing cuts and regional cooperation. In the past decade we have reduced our staff by about 19 percent and since 2007 by 15 percent—or about 100 employees in total. In 2014 and 2015 we have taken many actions to cut our budget—and find efficiencies.
We have also worked regionally to try to save money and be more efficient, including joining the Regional Income Tax Agency, becoming the largest city in the county to become part of the Cuyahoga County Health Care Consortium, helping to stabilize our health insurance costs. We actively seek grants from various sources, including from the federal government. In addition, we also have been a part of a regional fire dispatch for many years and are looking to expand such regional dispatch.
We continue to aggressively pursue partnerships and grants to realize even more efficiencies. However, we cannot continue to keep cutting our way to success.
Moving forward, we cannot overcome the continuing annual loss of revenues without additional revenue or deep cuts in services. We have a great community with great services and neighborhoods, and we cannot continue our legacy of excellence unless we maintain the services that have made it great.
City Council has proposed a 0.25 percent income tax increase, Issue 53, for the Nov. 3 ballot; the first tax increase in 36 years. This will cost about $11 per month on wages of $50,000 a year. The Independent Financial Task Force also recommended that the city pursue the tax increase, Issue 53.
RETIRED RESIDENTS WITH INCOME FROM PENSIONS, INVESTMENTS AND SOCIAL SECURITY WILL PAY NOTHING.
Raising taxes is not easy, but the alternative is worse. Our community will choose between debilitating cuts in every department and maintaining quality services.
Without Issue 53:
- 12 firefighters [16 percent of the Fire Department] and 8 police officers will be eliminated and response times will increase
- The number of ambulances, fire and police vehicles will be reduced
- There will be a reduction in snow removal, leaf collection and road maintenance
On behalf of City Council, I urge Cleveland Heights voters to vote FOR Issue 53, to protect Cleveland Heights, for us and generations to come.
Dennis Wilcox is mayor of Cleveland Heights. He is not running for reelection.