Shaker Heights income tax hike passes

9:13 PM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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SHAKER HEIGHTS -- Voters in Shaker Heights have approved an income tax hike from 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent, in unofficial results.

According to the unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, 4,206 voters voted FOR the income tax hike and 2,344 voters voted AGAINST the income tax hike.

The half-percent increase will raise the city's annual income tax collection by $6 million, a 30 percent increase. The increase will cost people making $50,000 an extra $252 per year, the city said.

The 1/2 percent income tax credit for Shaker Heights residents who work outside the city would be unchanged.

Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Shaker Heights Chamber of Commerce released a statement:

"The Shaker Heights Chamber of Commerce endorsed the payroll tax increase issue that just passed by  special election. The president, Debra Hegler, states 'We are glad that the issue was passed, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that city services will resume at the high levels we are accustomed to.'

She also notes that while glad the initiative passed, she remarks, 'Going forward, we hope to work more closely with city officials in order to develop a viable growth strategy to avoid having to resort to these extreme measures in the future. We cannot cut our way out of our budget problems, we must grow our way to stability. That means we must find a way to make it easier to do business in Shaker Heights to stimulate economic development and attract more small to medium sized businesses.'

We thank the residents for their vote of confidence that we will continue to work on growth strategies in order to avoid having to entertain tax options on the ballot in order to preserve current city service levels."

Had the income tax increase been defeated, Mayor Earl Leiken said 10 police officers, 10 firefighters, 15 public works employees and five community life employees would have to be cut.

Leiken said he would also have to disband four city departments -- housing, planning, neighborhood revitalization and communications and outreach -- that would cost an additional 20 employees their jobs.

Leiken said the city has reduced its workforce by 58 since 2007, and now employs 300 and implemented wage freezes, furloughs, and larger employee health care contributions.


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