Published December 2, 2007
If Youngstown city government is so flush with money that it can afford huge pay raises for public employees who are mediocre at best, with average qualifications and education, it's time the private-sector taxpayers got a break. If Mayor Jay Williams and city council aren't willing to decrease the income tax rate by a half-percent, then a citizens' initiative is demanded.
Ever since the half-percent tax increase was approved by voters several years ago during the tenure of then Mayor George M. McKelvey, city employees have been raking in the dough. Meanwhile, Youngstown's homicide rate is still among the highest in the country, the city school system is a disaster financially and academically, neighborhoods are still deteriorating and job-creation (in the private sector, at least) is anemic.
The tax increase was meant to improve the quality of life of Youngstown residents, but the only ones who seem to have benefitted are those on the public payroll.
The latest move by city council to give department heads and other managers raises of more than 10 percent over two-plus years is a slap in the face of workers in the private sector who have had to deal with layoffs and concessions.
Having the highest municipal income tax rate in the state of Ohio is a distinction that Youngstown could do without.
The time for true leadership on the part of the mayor and lawmakers is now.
If department heads and manager agree to forgo the increases, then Williams should seek concessions from the rest of city government's workforce.
But if greed prevails, then a grassroots campaign to roll back the tax will be launched.