As part of CityBeat's continuing election coverage, we’ve once again sent a questionnaire to the non-incumbent Cincinnati City Council candidates to get their reactions on a broad range of issues.
Nine of the 14 non-incumbents chose to answer our questions. Others either didn’t respond or couldn’t meet the deadline.
During the next few weeks, we will print the responses from the non-incumbents to a different topic each time.
Today’s question is, “What is your stance on the property tax rollback? Do you believe the city's property tax rate should be increased to the maximum 6.1 mills allowed under the charter, or remain at a rate to generate $28.9 million each year, or be decreased? Please explain your answer.”
Mike Allen (Independent): “I am not in favor of increasing property tax to the maximum of 6.1 mills. We must learn to live within our resources the same way families in our city have to do. By taking more money from our citizens, we do more damage to our weakened local economy.”
Kevin Flynn (Charterite): “I used to be in favor of increasing the millage to 6.1. As I investigated further, it became apparent that, between the Tax Increment Financing Districts our city created in the 1990s to divert money to redevelopment, and the Tax Abatements our city grants for new residential construction, the property tax burden is falling on fewer and fewer property owners who own ever aging properties. I cannot support laying the entire burden on a smaller and smaller number of properties. I also do not support lowering our property tax revenue by over $5 million, as was done by City Council this past June. Council lowered the revenue, increasing the projected 2012 deficit, without identifying any means of eliminating the deficit. This is irresponsible. For 2012, I supported the plan to keep revenues at $28.9 million, as had been done for the past decade, as a reasonable compromise between the two extremes.”
Nicholas Hollan (Democrat): “Our governor has decreased the amount of money allocated to local municipalities and the resulting deficit is essentially forcing the city to end the property tax rollback. Ending this rollback would cost the taxpayer of a $100,000 home around only $15 but the collective impact would increase much needed revenue.”
Patricia McCollum (Independent): “I do not want to decrease the property tax but if a nominal increase would have a positive impact in reducing the budget deficit, I would take this under consideration. An increase in property taxes at this time will not answer the question of rollback or not. The rollback will not make a difference in the revenue to the city or the county. The revenue is being affected by the foreclosure of homes, and with that, not taxes being paid. The rollback will allow a few voters to continue to do what they are doing, but this will not affect the majority of the voters who will continue to work hard and sacrifice to pay the property taxes as long as they can hold on to their homes. I think the increase in property taxes should be revisited for businesses and people who own property and rent for profits.”
Catherine Smith Mills (Republican): “I am opposed to raising property taxes. We do not need to give residents another excuse to leave the Cincinnati city limits by asking them to pay more than they are in these tough economic times. Surrounding municipalities have lower tax rates that compete for our citizens’ tax dollars and we need to remain competitive.”
Sandra Queen Noble (Independent): “You will just be creating another debt ceiling. The maximum won't stand because City Council will continue to borrow money they can't pay back. The public are slaves to the deficit.”
Jason Riveiro (Democrat): “Council’s latest action has no benefit — their decrease in the property tax only gave a $5 savings per homeowner. While I am not in favor of maximizing the millage, we should at least maintain the level we’ve been collecting.”
Chris Seelbach (Democrat): “I do not support any increase in taxes at this time. If possible, once on council, it would be ideal to keep the property tax rate at the rate set last year. However, if this is not possible without major cuts to core services, I would support returning the property tax rate to a level that brings in the same $29 million it has for the past decade. I would not support raising it to the maximum 6.1 mills as we need to remain competitive with the outer suburbs and continue to increase homeownership.”
P.G. Sittenfeld (Democrat): “The onus is on the city to demonstrate that it has its fiscal house in order and is being an effective custodian of public dollars before increasing taxes. We must always recognize that we are in a competition, so while increasing taxes is one method for closing a short-term budget hole, if that makes us a less attractive place to live or do business, then that’s not a success in the long-term for the city or its residents. I support the property tax rollback, and while my impulse is strongly against raising the millage, I would add that for the majority on council to have increased the operating deficit by $8 million knowing that there was no consensus among themselves about how they would plug that hole feels irresponsible.”