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Election Looms As Two Sides Debate Income Tax Hike

Representing the advocates of the half-percent income tax increase was City Councilman Andrew Ginther -- while Bill Todd of Basic's First represented the opponents of the hike.

Most of the arguments have been heard before. Ginther said the hike was necessary because city hall has already made deep cuts.

"Everything from neighborhood health centers, to recreation and parks, as well as social service programs that we have in place, code enforcement has been cut, refuse collection has taken a hit," said Ginther.

Bill Todd countered a tax hike will discourage businesses and job growth, when really the city needs to attract business and with it, revenue.

"The revenue issue is not because we need to raise the rates of the city income tax, it's because we need more good jobs in Columbus. The bigger the tax roll, the more we collect," said Todd.

WOSU asked Ginther whether the recent federal stimulus award for fifty new police officers would impact the dollar amount needed for a tax increase. Ginther said while the money helps, it won't remedy the fact that the city is going to lose scores of fire and police officers to retirement in 2011 -- the so-called "drop" problem.

"And so this support from the federal government will help us do that with respect to police, but obviously drop is also going to impact the Division of Fire, and we need to do everything we can to be ready for that," said Ginther.

Todd said a major problem with the tax increase is that it's a blank check. He said it should be targeted at basic public safety services.

"What this should have been is not a permanent, half-percent increase in the city income tax. From the beginning, it should have been a quarter percent, temporary income tax increase, focused on basic services: fire and police primarily," said Todd.

The last time the city asked for an income tax increase was in 1982.