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Government & Politics

Cleveland's Mayor Says A Tax Hike is The Only Cure For State Budget Cuts

Mayor Frank Jackson

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson says city voters have a clear choice:  either approve a half-percent income increase or see services cut.  Jackson says a tax increase is the only way to balance next year’s operating budget because of stagnant revenues and rising costs. 

Mayor Jackson is warning that this year’s projected $566 million budget will only leave a $722,000 surplus to start with in 2017. He says raising the income tax to 2.5 percent is the only way to avoid a serious budget deficit next year because of drastic state funding cuts, police reform costs, declining property taxes, lost traffic camera revenues and other factors.

Besides avoiding cuts, Jackson says the proposed increase would allow the city to grow some services. And that’s the simple message he wants voters to get.

“If you support this, this is what you’re guaranteed to get in terms of additional service in safety or other places. If you choose not to support it, this is what you’ll get in terms of reduction of service or the elimination of service and people being laid off. It’s a clear choice, and it’s not a threat.”

Jackson says the half-percent tax increase would generate about $83 million. With city council’s approval, the tax increase could make the November ballot.