Sandusky to consider raising taxes

Commissioners expected to vote Tuesday whether to place tax issue on November's ballot
Andy Ouriel
Jul 21, 2014

ouriel@sanduskyregister.com

Sandusky city commissioners could take action toward increasing both the income and admissions tax rates on Tuesday.

The elected officials plan to vote on this packaged tax proposal after discussing the pros and cons during a 6 p.m. special meeting inside City Hall, 222 Meigs St.

Watch tonight's meeting HERE live

Community members can attend the meeting and voice their opinions about this course of action.

Details about the plan, including numbers and figures, weren’t publicly available on Monday.

A week ago, Sandusky ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. outlined the city’s bleak financial future, underscored by about a $500,000 shortfall in a $16 million everyday operating budget come March 2015. A proposed increase in expenses, mainly from union-approved raises and skyrocketing health insurance rates, created the projected shortfall.

Cuts are nothing new to Sandusky’s government. The constantly cash-strapped budget over the years has already resulted in deep staffing cuts, neglect toward road repairs and, more recently, frequent fire station closures.

Raising taxes, then, signifies a last resort for city officials to preserve and enhance local public services, such as police and fire operations, tree maintenance and road reconstruction.

“If we don’t make changes now, and restore our safety forces and invest in our infrastructure, then I don’t see how Sandusky pulls out of this dive,” Murray said Monday. “We are at ‘decision time’ in terms of what we are going to be able to do for our community.”

The proposed plan likely came together after negotiations and compromises between members of three key groups:

• Sandusky administrators and some city commissioners.

• Representatives from Cedar Fair, Cedar Point’s parent company.

• Representatives from Rebuild Sandusky, a grassroots organization previously campaigning to raise the admissions tax rate from 3 percent to 6 percent.

After all discussion takes place during Tuesday's meeting, commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal.

If a majority of commissioners on the seven-member panel vote to approve this measure, it will get placed on November’s ballot.

Furthermore, if a majority of registered city voters cast a “yes” vote in November, the tax rates would increase to an as-yet unspecified amount, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

A collective “no” vote from either commissioners on Tuesday or residents during November's election would effectively squash this proposal.

 

Possible tax collections

Based on 2013 tax numbers, here’s how much different Sandusky's total tax collection would look like: 

Admissions tax (currently 3 percent)

• 3 percent: $2.81 million*

• 4 percent: $3.74 million

• 5 percent: $4.68 million

• 6 percent: $5.62 million

• 7 percent: $6.55 million

• 8 percent: $7.49 million

Note: All figures rounded. The admissions tax is a 3 percent fee tacked onto ticket sales at Sandusky-based entertainment venues. It largely depends upon attendance at Cedar Point — the undisputed giant in the region’s entertainment industry.

Income tax (currently 1 percent)

• 1 percent: $6.7 million*

• 1.25 percent: $8.4 million

• 1.5 percent: $10.1 million

• 1.75 percent: $11.7 million

• 2 percent: $13.4 million

Note: All figures rounded. The income tax is a 1 percent fee taken out of paychecks for anyone that works within Sandusky city limits. The tax also impacts city residents working in other areas outside of Sandusky. The tax only applies to earned income, not, for instance, Social Security, dividends or other similar tax-exempt payments. This is the portion of income tax funding everyday operations.

* Represents current rate

Source: Sandusky finance department

 

At a glance: Possible tax increases

• Sandusky city commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday whether to raise the 1 percent income and 3 percent admissions tax rates.

• If a majority of commissioners on the seven-member board vote “yes” on Tuesday, the issue will get placed on November’s ballot.

• If a majority of registered city voters cast a “yes” vote in November, the tax rates would increase to an unspecified amount, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

• Details about the plan, including numbers and figures, weren’t publicly available on Monday.

 

 

Comments

From the Grave

Cool!

Tribester

Great idea! Let's raise taxes on those least able to afford them, the hard working citizens of Sandusky who are barely getting by as it is. Admissions tax largely is paid for by TOURISTS who don't live here, but income tax is paid by US! Vote YES on admissions tax hike and NO on income tax hike!

sugar

VOTE NO, VOTE NO. No more of my hard earns dollar for your mismanagement. ENOUGH.

OMGreally

agree with Tribester...admissions and bed taxes would be a good way to go

Perkins Resident

Be ready for what businesses that are left in Sandusky to relocate to Perkins Township.

deertracker

Perkins is broke too. Look at the roads!

Perkins Resident

Typical Liberal. Regardless of the state of Perkins, Sandusky will lose numerous businesses if the income tax is raised. I know two off hand that will pack up and move into the Township. No reason to keep it there when none of your employees live in the city. No reason to pay city taxes if you don't have to. Go ahead and raise it and watch the mass exodus. Reminds me of the county raising the sales tax and when collections are down they blame the weather. We have morons running all levels of government.

doppleganger

What are the two businesses? Not to be a smart arse or anything, I just want to check if it is my employer. I would be the last to know.

brett kinzel

Sandusky is a city of 25,000 people located on the largest protected harbor on the great lakes. It has a billion dollar business within it's borders, and it's broke. How can that be? Perhaps we could cut back on the golf course, or the greenhouse, why have a law director? The fact of the matter is that over the last 20 years, the city government has looted this city. Now they want more. Shame on them.

Whiskey Tango F...

You can't honestly expect these people to be held accountable for their actions! Why just the other day I came up short on my own personal bills... I thought about using savings, borrowing against my equity, or using a charge card. Then I realized it was just easier to put a levy of my own on the books and make my neighbors and friends pay for my poor budgeting and over-spending! Look out November! Oh, I almost forgot, if you pass my levy you can expect to see it every voting day for the rest of your lives!!!

sugar

Looted is a perfect word, we are looted at city , county, state, federal, FICA, Medicare, fines, fees, licenses, tolls, taxes. Our government has destroyed the economy with greed and still expect us to hand over more.

Licorice Schtick

It's true that ordinary people are nickel-and-dimed to death with taxes. But why does the government WE vote for institute policies that benefit the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the Workers? It's because the system is inherently corrupt, and politicians need payoffs from Big Money to get elected. Blame a corrupt system and foolish voters.

Babo

It makes sense to sell the golf course and privatize it. It would generate property taxes and other taxes instead of having residents. subsidize a small portion of the population's recreation. Similarly, a hard examination of the law director and his budget is long overdue as that office is more responsible then any other for the millions in losses through loans, housing grants, unpaid water bills, excessive legal contracts and unnecessary litigation costs over the past decade.

However, I disagree with cutting back the Greenhouse as it is part of what makes Sandusky unique. If anything it should be expanded to include tree maintenance and street scaping. That program helps beautify a community and that benefits the residents and enhances tourism.

Licorice Schtick

Does the golf course not also make Sandusky unique? Selling the golf course would be a drop in the bucket. Like the greenhouse, it's worth more to Sandusky that it costs.

Babo

If it remains a golf course, how does the city lose anything? But it will gain property taxes and encourages private business growth instead of government payroll bloat.

Moreover, the city can't afford recreation for children such as a pool but it can subsidize adult recreation for the likes of Joe Yost when he gets out?

YoMamma

The golf course looses $25,000/year.

Licorice Schtick

Public parks and recreation facilities rarely make money. What do you think the City spends on Washington Park?

Nemesis

"It makes sense to sell the golf course and privatize it. It would generate property taxes and other taxes instead of having residents. subsidize a small portion of the population's recreation.....However, I disagree with cutting back the Greenhouse as it is part of what makes Sandusky unique. If anything it should be expanded to include tree maintenance and street scaping. "

Translation: Babo doesn't play golf, but Babo likes pretty plants and trees, and Babo's judgement of what constitutes appropriate government spending is a function of whose ox is being gored.

Babo

LOL, you're wrong. I do play golf..badly.

Gottathink

Babo is also correct in another way ...most people, when vacationing, desire a location that is opposite then where they live. So those that live and work in the "concrete jungle" appreciate it when they can vacation somewhere like Ohio, specifically Cedar Point area.
Not only do they have fun at the one of the greatest amusements parks in the US they also get an opportunity to relax in the "slowed down" "greener" areas of Ohio. Ohio is beautiful, she has so much to offer.

You all need to be proudly displaying that

Nemesis

"Sandusky is a city of 25,000 people located on the largest protected harbor on the great lakes. It has a billion dollar business within it's borders, and it's broke. How can that be?"

Short version: too many grasshoppers, not enough ants.

Babo

Correction: Too many second and third generation grasshoppers with a sense of entitlement to loot the City for their or their clients' pet projects such as ferry boats; housing grants, building rehabilitation housing developments, etc

doppleganger

I would consider voting yes for a small income tax increase ONLY if the admissions tax went up to at least 6%. No less.

WeThePeople1965

I'm waiting for Cedar Point to secede from the city and become Cedar Point, Ohio. I'm surprised imminent domain hasn't kicked in for that side of town. Self-destruction on the citys' part.

Licorice Schtick

Your comment is not clear. Please explain further.

WeThePeople1965

What I'm saying is Cedar Point should be tired of the city by now. Most tourists call Cedar Point 'Cedar Point, Ohio' anyway. And about the imminent domain, instead of Cedar Point looking like a island in the middle of ghettoville, they might consider buying the broke down land on Cleveland road and whatever that one street is called that leads up to Cedar Point road. Lets be honest, that general area with the exception of the lakefront properties looks nothing like a vacation spot.

Licorice Schtick

Good points. Perhaps the new CP management will find new ways,to collaborate with local jurisdictions. This area is invested in tourism and EVERYONE has an interest in considering the total experience for visitors. This is and inherently beautiful place, with a lot of ugliness for no good reason.

The creation of the Erie MetroParks' beautiful East Sandusky Bay, which CP supported, definitely enhances the visitors' experience.

CP cannot "secede" from Sandusky, of course, but they could move some employees and operations to other jurisdictions.

local man

I encourage the Sandusky Register to find out the admission tax that Cedar Fair is subject to for Kings Island (Cincinatti), Carowinds (Charlotte, NC) Kings Dominion (Richmond Va) and Knotts Berry Farm (Los Angeles, CA). Any future admissions taxes should reflect what they are accustomed to paying in other communities. Michigan, Kansas City, Pennsylvania, Toronto Ca also has parks but I dont have the time to research names and list them.

wjs

Many Sandusky residents aren’t interested in what other cities do. If they did, they would see how behind-the-times they are with their income tax rate. There is a persistent delusion that 1% is appropriate and realistic, while every other city its size has raised taxes to account for the drop in revenue once provided by the state.

Kings Island
No Admissions Tax
1.12% Income Tax

Other than Cedar Point, the only Cedar Fair park that pays admission tax to the local municipality is Dorney Park, which I believe is 5%.

Thomas Paine

Again with facts...please stop :)

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