Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thank you, Frank Szollosi

Last night, Toledo City Council was scheduled to vote - again - on an increase in the trash tax.

Rather than have a 6-6 tie with Mayor Carty Finkbeiner to break the vote (and he would have supported the tax increase as a way to help balance the budget), Councilman Frank Szollosi walked out. In doing so, he drew the ire of Council President Joe McNamara, who supports the tax. According to WTOL,

McNamara would not be moved, saying, "Members of council are elected to come to meetings and vote. And that's the basic bare requirement of our job and so it's disappointing that anyone would duck a vote."

I don't believe Szollosi was ducking a vote, but taking advantage of the only option left to him to prevent a tax increase.

According to 13ABC:

"If I can stop a tax increase from making life more difficult for thousands of Toledo families by stepping out, I'm going to do it," says Szollosi.

But if you'll remember, the last time this was voted upon, it was defeated 5-6 and Szollosi was going to vote no. The numbers don't add up. So what happened?

According to The Blade,

On Sept. 1, council voted down the trash fee increase, with five in favor and six against. Voting in favor of the trash fee increase and rewards program were Mr. McNamara, Wilma Brown, Phillip Copeland, George Sarantou, and Steven Steel.

Voting against were Mr. (D. Michael) Collins, Tom Waniewski, Lindsay Webb, Michael Ashford, Mike Craig, and Betty Shultz.

So if everyone had voted the same way, and Szollosi voted no, it would have be 5 in favor and 7 against.

The paper reports:

Mrs. Brown said last night she intended to change her vote to yes, which would have made the split six in favor of the increase and six opposed.

Mrs. Shultz said she did not think through the increase when it came up for a vote four weeks ago and also that she did not want to leave a legacy that included a "bankrupt city."

I believe the paper has mis-identified the person who was going to change their vote - reporting it was Wilman Brown when they meant Betty Shultz. (This was corrected after my blog post.)

And I find it inconceivable that Betty was going to change her vote, especially because the city would still be bankrupt in 2009, even if this tax increase had been approved.

As Frank explained: "There are so many people hurting in this city, the last thing they need is for the city and the mayor to reach into their pockets more when we have failed to live within our means."

The best part of the actions last night was reported by 13ABC:

13abc's Christine Long: "Any idea when it will come back?"

McNamara: "No. I think it's probably done this year, unless council members change their minds, I think the trash fee change is dead."

So thank you to the council members who remained steadfast in their opposition to tax increases: D Michael Collins, Tom Waniewski, Lindsay Webb, Michael Ashford, and Mike Craig.

And thank you to Frank Szollosi who used every means possible to prevent this unprecedented tax increase.

6 comments:

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

Can anyone explain why the city is so fixated on increasing a tax (fee) that is likely to have to be refunded when the court system is done with it?

I simply cannot fathom the thought process involved in making this garbage tax any more of a mess than it already is, especially since the revenue generated will not close the budget deficit.

Roman said...

This might be the first time I commend Mr. Szollisi for his actions on City Council.

Rather than ducking a vote, he and Mr. Collins used a procedural tool that resulted in not raising taxes.

My thanks to Mr. Szollisi, Mr. Collins and all who voted against raising the garbage tax.

Maggie Thurber said...

Roman,

Since Carty was elected, Frank has been rather consistent in opposing tax increases. He's voted against several items that would have raised fees ...

James said...

To those councilmen who opposed the increase in the garbage tax, look for the bully pulpit at Superior and Orange to come down hard on you. And thanks for voting against it.

-Sepp said...

I had also given up long ago on Frank. Maybe...just maybe his LCDP issued rosey glasses came off and he's finally seeing the interests of the people of Toledo instead of just the interests of the party and the blocks.
In a city where nearly 30% of the populace is on some kind of govt assistance...where does council think the money is going to keep comming from?

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Maggie,

My thanks to both Frank and Mike for thwarting the will of czarty with an excellent (and perfectly legal) chess move!

To all who, one way or another, stood up against increasing the illegal tax increase I say, Brave and my whole-hearted thanks for doing the right thing!

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