REGISTER VIEWPOINT: A taxing question for Sandusky voters

It's good news, or maybe not-as-bad news, that the city of Sandusky has cut its income tax increase request in half, from half a per
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

It's good news, or maybe not-as-bad news, that the city of Sandusky has cut its income tax increase request in half, from half a percent to a quarter of a percent.

Perhaps that's in response to public sentiment against the idea of a tax increase in the first place, and the city hopes voters are more likely to OK a smaller increase.

So, yeah, good news, or at least not-as-bad news.

On the surface.

Because the troubling thing about this is the idea that the city just really doesn't have a handle on the state of its finances.

First, the anticipated shortfall could be finessed with cuts here and there across the board. Then, it couldn't. Then, layoffs here and there. Now we're talking about closing a fire station to deal with overtime issues, all while handcuffed by police and fire staffing issues that are more about union demands and desires than adequately addressing public safety.

Last Friday, the city needed $3.5 million, hence the half-percent increase.

By Monday, the city decided asking for half that much was the way to go.

It's true Sanduskians haven't had an income tax increase in 40 years, and it's true the prices of everything have climbed since then, and it's true we expect governments to provide more than we did then.

But it's also true the city has done little, realistically, to convince taxpayers their money is being spent wisely.

And it's becoming clearer the city leadership is unable or unwilling to make the difficult decisions on any meaningful scale.

The word "decide," after all, has roots in the old Latin word for "kill" -- as in, you make a choice and effectively "kill" the other alternatives. And no one wants to "kill" something tax money has been paying for, for so long -- whether it's a job or a service.

But voters chose commissioners to make the hard choices when necessary.

Our choice in November is to decide whether we want to pay more for what we've got or do without. For each voter, the choice will be clearer either way if there is confidence the money will be spent as wisely and efficiently as possible.

As a voter, do you have that confidence? That's the question you need to take with you to the polls, and that's the question the city must enable you to answer for yourself.