Council discusses possible tax increase for Warren residents

WARREN, Ohio (WYTV) – Facing a big budget deficit by the end of next year, the City of Warren discussed increasing taxes at a council meeting Wednesday.

The idea would be to place a tax levy on the November ballot that would permanently raise the income tax from 2 to 2.5 percent.

“I think the mayor used the analogy, ‘We’ve cut all the fat and we’d be looking at having to cut into muscle,’ and that’s a very painful proposition going into ’17,” said Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa.

He says the city is looking at a $1.3 million budget deficit next year.

Auditor Vince Flask blames cuts in local government funds, state government funds and a decrease in inheritance tax.

“The inherhitance tax in 2011, we got $465,000. This year to date, we’ve got $39,000 and we’re anticipated to get next year, nothing,” he said.

Cantalamessa said if the proposed levy is passed, it would generate about $3.5 million, which would be more than enough to make up the deficit and get the city back on its feet.

Two Warren residents spoke out against the tax.

“The proposal of this income tax hike is abhorrent and a slap in the face to every resident, business owner and those who join us every single day in our beautiful city to carry out their work,” Alex Bodie said.

“The lack of planning on the administration’s part does not constitute an emergency for me and these good citizens of Warren,” Greg Greathouse said.

City council decided not to take a vote yet on whether or not to place the income tax increase on the November ballot. Instead, they passed it through first reading and decided that the issue will go through all three readings.

The proposed tax increase will be discussed further at a Warren Council finance committee meeting on Tuesday at 5 p.m. The public is welcome to attend and share its opinions.

The deadline to have the proposed levy on the November ballot is August 10.

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