Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Toledo politicians: pandering to the old while sticking it to the rest of us

It's election season and some candidates are falling all over themselves trying to promise things to others - with our tax money, that is, not their own.

The latest is the proposal to allow seniors a discount on water, sewer and trash tax bills simply because they're older. Of course, they're more likely to vote, so this is not a surprise.

Mayoral candidates and current council members Joe McNamara and D. Michael Collins are claiming to be upset that the state of Ohio just passed a law in their two-year budget bill that restores income means testing for the Homestead Exemption on property taxes.

In the past, homeowners over 65 years of age received a discount on their property taxes if they had low incomes. Gov. Ted Strickland changed that during his term and made it all seniors, regardless of income. Now, as part of the tax reforms just passed, it's back to a means-tested formula and only those making less than $30,000 a year are eligible. They would get a $25,000 reduction of the property value when computing their taxes.

But the city's discounts for water, sewer and trash are based upon eligibility for the Homestead Exemption, so with that changing, clearly Toledo must change its laws as well in order to pander to seniors - right?

But why only for seniors?

If water, sewer and trash tax rates are too high for seniors, aren't they too high for everyone?

And if we're going to perform means testing, why not do so in general? What difference does it make if you're 25, 35, 45, 55 or 65 if you're making less than $30,000???

According to City-Data, the median income in Toledo in 2009 was $32,325. That's down from the 2000 level of $32,546.

This means that half the people in the city make more than $32,325 and half make less.

Obviously, if we offered a discount to people making less than $30,000 about half the city would end up paying less and that certainly won't work when the city is telling us they need even more to repair our aging infrastructure and just recently voted to raise the rates we all pay.

Of course, if half of Toledo pays less, the other half has to pay more - just to even things out.

So how will the city afford these discounts?

Who know? Who cares? But doesn't it sound great on the campaign trail?

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