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.