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« Stirfry

A Youngstown property owner's lament

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published February 8, 2009

Last Saturday, while awaiting the start of "The Valley's Talkin' with Doc and Bert" on 1330 TALK WGFT (it's broadcast live from Panera Bread in Canfield), a man who said he owned several properties in Youngstown asked this writer the following question: "Is there a way to prevent non-property owners from voting on property tax levies?"

He explained that the recently passed 9.5 percent Youngstown city school levy was going to be a major financial burden on him.

He's right. The worn-out idea that owners of rental property simply pass on the tax increase to their tenants is without foundation when talking about a city like Youngstown. A lot of renters in the city are iffy at best.

Indeed, the question about who should and should not vote on taxes has been asked before — again in Youngstown. Several years ago, when city government sought an income tax increase, the campaign conducted in certain areas was as follows: Vote to raise the income tax rate to 2.75 percent because you won't be paying it.

Given the large number of city residents on fixed income — social security or welfare — a disproportionate amount of the city income tax is paid by non-Youngstowners who work in the city. Is that fair? Indeed, these taxpayers don't even have a vote.

If the city isn't careful, property owners will sell (even at a loss) and flee and employers will succumb to pressure from their non-resident employees and relocate their businessess to the suburbs.




1ytownsteelman(674 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes you are absolutely right. Only property owners should have a vote on a property tax! Its the only fair way to go.

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2NoBS(2390 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I've said that for years. I'm not saying we should revert back to the days when government was comprised of The House of Lords and The House of Commoners, but property issues should not be addressed by anybody but property owners.

Renters are transient, and have no committment to a given neighborhood or area. When they're allowed to vote on things that do not impact them, we can end up with all sorts of pie-in-the-sky foolishness that the homeowners have to fund.

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3Westsider(253 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I truly believe that if only those who own property in Youngstown had voted - the school levy would not have passed - and as it turns out - it wasn't for enough money anyway. How much is the Board of Education going to request next year?

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4aeparish(669 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Of course they wouldn't. And if I was a property owner, I'd be one of them that wouldn't have voted in favor for the levy passing.

Until these schools improve, I won't give them a dime. They've had numerous chances and numerous levies to make things right and they have yet to. Very few schools around here can actually be considered 'good' schools.

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5da_truth(6 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Bertam what do you mean "if the city isn't careful"? Stop blaming every economic ill on the City. The school levy was not a function of city goverment. The current administration did not rais the income tax.

Do you ever have anything good to say about Youngstown?

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6aeparish(669 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

In Bertram's defense, he changed the subject. He never said that school levies were a function of city government. He transitioned by talking about taxes in general, and then about income taxes, specifically.

At any rate, regarding the income taxes -- my boyfriend works in Youngstown and we live in a township. He pays A LOT of money in city taxes and doesn't even live in the city. And for what? Guess what, everyone. 2010's right around the corner and Jay's 'plan' has hardly been as successful as he promised. These outrageous taxes that my boyfriend has been stripped of each week in his pay check are going towards NOTHING.

I knew all that talk about Youngstown 2010 was too good to be true when the idea first surfaced. In my heart, I still wanted to believe that it was a possibility. However, let down after let down, I am now older, wiser, and less naive. It's going to take a lot more for me this time around to be convinced that this area has potential. And God bless the person(s) that prove me wrong, because that day, I will gladly accept an 'I told you so.'

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7boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

Honestly, all businesses in city limits should pull out and move to the burbs, and all property owners who don't like being taxed should evict all their tenants and raze their bldgs. When Youngstown is empty, the Once-ler (google it) will be left wondering what happened.

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8projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 6 years, 9 months ago

I've never understood the rationale that tax levies for school systems "aren't worth it." Investing in our children, regardless of their home situations, where they live or color (c'mon, admit it, there is always the subtle undertone of this context in anti-Ytown school blog comments) is always worthwhile. I remember growing up here, 30 years ago, & hearing the same complaints from seniors about paying for school levies when they didn't have kids in school anymore. If you bought property years ago & the value went down, is it the fault of the children in the school system that you didn't sell your property years ago? As for renters not deserving the right to vote, I thought I lived in the USA & that everyone has the right to vote. I've rented in many cities in this country & I've always voted for school levies. I might add that I didn't have children at the time & paid mighty high taxes for services I didn't use. We don't get to cherry pick who votes for what or which taxes we want to pay just because we don't use certain services. When you start collecting your Social Security checks, you can thank me & many others who still wonder if we will ever be able to collect what we have put into the system. Regardless, you don't see young people saying "I don't want to pay for Social Security when I don't need it [now] or possibly won't receive it in my old age!" I think it is just plain ridiculous that this property owner gripes that renters don't have equal rights to vote. Not everyone can afford to purchase a home these days(and they aren't always the best investment anyway!).

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