Sandusky workers get OK to campaign for income tax hike

SANDUSKY Attached to their most recent paychecks, city employees got flyers urging them to support t
May 24, 2010



Attached to their most recent paychecks, city employees got flyers urging them to support the 0.25 percent income-tax increase this November.

Because the flyers were made on city time with city equipment, the gesture made city law director Don Icsman uneasy.

"If you want to follow the law, technically, that could be a problem," Icsman said. "That's an expenditure of funds in a way. ... It's not a financial contribution, but time is money."

The city commission took care of that problem this week.

The commission passed a motion 5-2 allowing city workers to give "diminuous" amounts of time to support the tax-income initiative.

Dave Waddington and Dan Kaman dissented.

"Diminuous means a small amount of time," said ex-officio mayor Craig Stahl, who supported the move. "Insignificant. To send that (flyer) with paychecks you're probably talking a dollar."

Julie Farrar also voiced her support.

"We're covering employees so we don't have someone coming back and saying, 'Youremployees were seen doing this and they should've been picking up my leaves,' or, 'They were explaining this and should've been checking the waterline,'" Farrar said.

"I'm just saying we're going to protect our employees from anything coming back on them. ... We're giving them minimal time if someone in the public were to ask a question or ask for information."

Ed Widman said the motion cleared up confusion.

"Is that a huge contribution to a campaign? No," Widman said in reference to the flyers. "But we were always told to do nothing."

The conversation actually started when commissioner Bob Warner asked the city commission to make a $3,000 political donation to the Committee for a Stronger Sandusky.

The committee, led by Sandusky firefighters, is supporting the 0.25 percent tax-income increase on the ballot this November.

"I'd certainly like to help them out. I'll help them out any way I can," Warner said. "I think the city should be able to help them out monetarily for signs and things and advertisements in the newspaper ... to let people know just what it's all about."

But Warner's motion lost 5-2, and drew the ire of some residents. Even fellow commissioners who support the tax increase said they couldn't support that.

"I don't think this is a good time to donate $3,000 or any money realistically to a campaign," commissioner Brett Fuqua said, "when we're here every meeting talking about how much financial trouble we're in and how much money we need for this or that."

Stahl, Warner, Fuqua, Brown and Farrar all said although the city couldn't make the financial political contribution, they were committed to getting the increased income tax passed.

"I'm going to vote no on the $3,000, but vote yes on 100 percent helping you out any way I can," Stahl said.

He added he's already donated to the campaign personally and will continue to give money and time.

"I believe you're doing a heck of a job, and I'll support you."