Sunday, 02 October 2005
By BRANDI BARHITE
SANDUSKY - Sandusky commission hopefuls are looking into possible revenue for the city.
But the new taxes going into effect in January might come into play first.
Candidate John Jacobs wants to repeal the taxes because "we are being overtaxed already," he said.
Four votes would be needed to repeal the taxes.
In the summer, the commission approved gradually increasing the boat tax from $10 to $25 and to get rid of the city's income tax credit.
The commissioners also voted to expand the 3 percent admission tax to include campgrounds and ferries.
Vice Mayor Dan Kaman and commissioners Dannie Edmon and Dave Waddington voted against the taxes, citing people's and businesses' inability to pay more taxes.
Waddington said he is not considering repealing the taxes right now, while Edmon said "it is something we should play by ear right now, and wait until after the election." Kaman said he doesn't want to repeal it.
Candidate Scott Hall supports the boat tax, and if elected wants to carefully look over the budget, he said.
"Taxes (aren't) the only way to bring new revenue in," Hall said. "We need to see what we can do with Surf's Up."
Hall would like to rent Surf's Up, now the Sandusky Bay Pavilion, for graduation parties, weddings and company picnics.
"Voters haven't been saying they are being overtaxed," Hall said. "People are mostly worried about services being cut. They want them back. They figure their tax money is already for (services)."
Candidate Brian Crandall said he couldn't justify repealing the new boat tax when commissioners just voted 6-1 to buy a new fire boat.
Money for the $279,308 fire boat is coming from the boat tax. Tax revenue is also slated to pay for projects within the strategic plan, including the continuation of the Paper District and a beach for Lions Park.
The city has almost $17 million in its general fund budget this year. Revenues were down through the second quarter compared to last year.
Crandall said in the citizen's survey residents said they want to pass new taxes onto tourists.
Thirty-nine percent of respondents "strongly agree" that any necessary tax increases should affect tourists, not locals, he said.
Candidate John Mears said Cedar Point pays enough taxes and citizens have two choices when it comes to taxes. They can pay for the different services, such as dock space and trash pickup, or pay more income tax.
"We have to create more pride in the city and we have to create a situation where the citizens trust the government," Mears said. "If they don't trust the government, they will continue to not pass any taxes."
Candidate Craig Stahl said at the current time, he will respect the current commissioners' vote on this issue.
However, beginning Nov. 9, "I hope that we can have an evaluation of both revenues and expenses and plot a blueprint for our future -- clearly these issues and other issues will be a part of that discussion," he said.
Candidate Dennis Murray Jr. said he can't adequately comment on possible ways to bring in new revenue for the city without input from other commissioners and staff.
"We still have a city manager form of government," Murray said. "While we can certainly suggest things to the manager, it is for the city manager to suggest things to commissioners."
Candidate Pervis Brown Jr. said he's against taxing Cedar Point, and said the expansion of the admission tax was a tricky way to get the park to pay more in taxes.
Brown said it might be more appropriate to increase the 3 percent bed tax.
"We need to be careful we don't tax ourselves out of business," Brown said. "Any tax we do should be comparable to what other tourist areas are doing."
Candidate Frank Fosco said ordinances already approved by commission shouldn't be campaign issues.
He said the new commissioners need to sit down with the continuing commissioners in January and look at the total budget situation.
Candidate Ed Feick said if the city cuts its expenses it wouldn't need new taxes.
"We need to use our own lawyers, engineers and professionals and not hire them," Feick said. "Then we wouldn't need those other taxes."
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