Canfield voters reject city income tax increase 2-1
By ROBERT CONNELLY
As the unofficial election results began to be posted at Canfield’s two polling locations, the result became clear: City residents voted overwhelmingly against the half-percent income tax increase.
“Really wasn’t even close,” said Don Dragish Jr., Canfield City Council president, as results began to be posted shortly after polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Two of the city’s eight precincts were at the Mill Creek MetroParks Farm; the other six were at St. Michael’s Family Center, off state Route 46. “This is looking decisive,” said Mayor Bernie Kosar Sr., as results came in.
The final unofficial tally from the special election had 1,350 (73 percent) against and 489 (27 percent) for – a nearly 3-1 margin.
In total there were 1,839 votes. With 6,066 registered voters in Canfield, that means turnout was about 30 percent, or double what Mahoning County Board of Elections Director Joyce Kale-Pesta had hoped for.
The city had pursued the half-percent income tax increase to address funding cuts from the state. It would have generated an additional $1.5 million annually for the city. The city enacted its 1 percent income tax in 1972.
“We’re going to have to figure out a plan for the city long-term,” Dragish said.
City officials will not place it on the November ballot. “We’ve just got to come up with a plan now,” Dragish said.
“Whoa, I’m floored about that,” Kosar said as some of the more-drastic precinct results were posted at St. Michael’s. “This is quite decisive. They have spoken,” Kosar said.
The votes were clear cut, such as in Precinct 8, which had 192 votes against and 58 for.
City Manager Joe Warino, Kosar, Dragish and Councilman John Morvay gathered at St. Michael’s as the results were posted Tuesday night. Joe LoCicero, who led the Canfield Citizens Initiative group and social media presence, also was there and said bluntly, “The people have spoken.”
Morvay summed up the election process about 7 p.m. and said his takeaway from interacting with voters Tuesday was “how misinformed people are. Instead of coming to a public meeting and getting the facts, they went to their hairdresser or somewhere else to get the facts.”
Kosar replied, “If we go down, that’s the gist of why.”
“We’re going to do our best with the resources that are handed to us, and we’re going to continue to provide the services as best we can – just watch the finances,” Warino said.
A sport utility vehicle was parked in the Giant Eagle lot along U.S. Route 224 during voting hours that had poster boards on it that said “No new taxes.” The city hosted a few town hall meetings to address residents’ questions about the need for the tax, but city officials were disappointed at the low turnout for those meetings.
The special election cost the city about $10,000. There is a 10-day window now for any absentee ballots postmarked by Tuesday and provisional ballots to be counted before the election results are final. Canfield officials said Tuesday night there were 72 absentee ballots and 26 provisional ballots.