Tax relief or election pandering?

Published August 7, 2015 by justicewg

Finance committee Chairman Steve Gladman introduced legislation to the city council that would give income tax relief to the Grandview residents who work in Columbus. It sounds like an equity issue when you look at the numbers, but as other council members explained, taking up this issue at the same time the city asks for a property-tax levy renewal next year sounds like they are not really in need of the levy. The projections say the renewal will be needed.

And bringing this up just before the election smacks of pandering to voters.

Gladman defends his actions

I asked Mr. Galdman to explain why this was before the council, and which members were supporting it.

J.W. – What was the reason for creating this ordnance? Was there a call for it from city residents? Who asked for the tax relief?

Steve Gladman – The reason for the tax equity ordinance was to return to the previous income tax approach of providing all residents with a 100% credit that was altered in 2010 when voters were asked to approve a higher tax rate. The decision to not allow the full credit in 2010 was a business decision In 2010 Grandview Heights was faced with a difficult economic forecast and not providing a full 100% credit was viewed by Council as needed at that time. The granting of only a partial credit resulted in $250,000 of additional income.  Five years later Grandview Heights is in a financial postion to return to the previous  practice of providing a 100% Credit.

One one asked me to introduce this,I believe this is a good public policy and attempted to have this considered by Council earlier in the year but is was not placed on the Agenda. Since I believe policy matters should have public discussion introduced it from the floor. Open meeting law prohibits discussion outside of open meetings on pending legislation.  The concept was discussed at the July Finance Committee meeting.

J.W. – Which council members have been supportive of this tax-reduction? If you couldn’t get a majority vote to prevent the permanent tabling of the ordnance, why did you think it was appropriate to bring before the council?
S.G. – I can not speak for other members of Council, but I believe there is a majority that support the concept of tax equity. Based on the discussion at the last Council meeting there are various opinions about  when this ordinance, if passed should become effective.  The ordinance was not tabled and will have a second hearing at the next council meeting.

J.W. – Why should we not believe this was an action taken only to pander for votes in the fall election?
S.G. – I introduced this ordinance because I believe it is good public policy and a policy that I believe is supported by the majority of Grandview Heights residents.

I don’t doubt that if you asked the average voter on the street, they would say they want lower taxes. If there were a group of angry voters that brought this issue before the council, it would be a real concern that the city should address. The problem is that as Gladman admits, nobody asked for the tax relief.

The job of councilman is to do what is right for the city, and introducing this issue at the same time other members are trying to get support for a renewal levy smells of doing what is right for your own election this fall.

I guess that is politics. It doesn’t compare to the time former Mayor Sexton tried to convince the council to sell the city buildings to the banks so they could get a quick cash infusion (as now Mayor DeGraw said, that plan was like taking the city down to the hock shop). It didn’t work for Sexton, she wasn’t re-elected. We will see if this is OK with the voters in the fall.

(later) Apparently pandering trying to cut taxes is a valid way to get re-elected in Grandview, Mr Gladman was the only council member to hold on to his seat.

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