Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fact Check: Keith Wilkowski and taxes: Will he deal jokers or a winning hand

Mr. Wilkowski adamantly professes that he will not raise taxes if he is elected Mayor; however, does his past performance preclude his present potion on taxes? Will he do as he says or do as he did? With the broad promises he is making to the community and the poor condition of the economy of Toledo, it is impossible for this economy to sustain his promises. The following is a history of Mr. Wilkowski’s view on budgets and taxes during his very short tenure as Lucas County Commissioner. You decide!

In June of 89, Commissioner Wilkowski was floating the need for a tax increase as the preliminary budget for ’90 was almost $10 million short.

Four months later in Oct. of 89, Commissioner Wilkowski was pleased to announce the purchase of the downtown YMCA (built in 1930) to be used as a juvenile correction facility. The $283,000 purchase came from the general fund but a tax increase was needed to pay for renovation. The tax increase would generate $17 million per year.

The next month, Nov. of 89, the need for more revenue shifted from $10 million to a projected $30 million dollar backlog of repairs which Mr. Wilkowski announced and started hearings for a tax increase.

In Jan of 90, Commissioner Wilkowski preferred not to detail how to spend the additional tax revenue as “elected officials need some discretion”. A tentative list was provided, but the desperately needed “Juvenile Center” at the YMCA became a planned adult detention center.

In May of 90, after the levy failed, Commissioner Wilkowski lamented to a group of “county workers and Democrats … that the sales-tax increase will gain approval the next time it's on the ballot” and that it should be at a special election in August to avoid being on the same ballot with a large school levy.

Most telling of his philosophy is this quote from this May ’90 event: “"Perhaps this time we needed the rear ends of the commissioners kicked, and so it was and we had it done. All of you understand what government is all about, what it means to make a difference in our community, and try to make this a better place to live”

Do you really believe he will not raise taxes?

Articles from the Toledo Blade:

Lucas County officials facing higher expenses and lower growth in revenue anticipate a preliminary budget shortfall next year of almost $10 million, and a commissioner says the sales tax may have to be increased as a result.

"We're going to have to take a hard look at cutbacks." Commissioner Keith Wilkowski said. "And I think that increasing the sales tax ought to be looked at, at least temporarily. "It's a very simple proposition: You cut your expenses or raise revenue or do some combination of both," he said.

Commissioner Sandy Isenberg said she expects some belt-tightening. "We'll start with things like travel, overtime, seminars, and publications." She said. Talk of a sales-tax increase would be premature.

The Lucas county Commissioners today voted to purchase the former downtown YMCA for $283,334 to preserve the historic structure and to provide a new juvenile corrections facility. …. "I'm pleased that we've been able to acquire the building. It's an important structure downtown,' Commissioner Keith Wilkowski said after the vote. He said the building at Jefferson Avenue and 11th Street, is planned to be used as a juvenile detention center or juvenile work release center.

The money to purchase the building came from the county's general fund, and the funds to renovate the facility could possibly come from proceeds of an increase in the country sales tax. which has been discussed by county commissioners as a way to provide more money for housing juvenile and adult inmates

The rising cost of drug-related crime, a heavy debt load, and a $30 million backlog of needed capital improvements means Lucas County must raise its sales tax, county commissioners say.

Faced with 1990 budget requests totaling $78.9 million and projected revenue of just $70.9 million, county officials are expected next month to approve a 0.5% point increase that would raise the combined state and local sales tax to 6.5%. A boost to 6.5%, the highest permissible in Ohio, would raise an additional $17 million a year. ….."It's certainly no secret we're looking at this." Commissioner Keith Wilkowski said yesterday after the hearing dates were set.

Administrators stress they have a strong three-year blueprint for the tax fund, most of which would be spent on the rising costs of criminal justice, which has been increasingly burdened by drug-related cases.

"I think elected officials need some discretion," Commissioner Keith Wilkowski said. "I suppose there could always be arguments but the projects that we are talking about are the projects we will do with this money. There are no grandiose plans for other projects. … Of the 0.5% increase, commissioners earmarked half, a 3-year measure, to pay for capital projects totaling $23.25 million, Mr. Wilkowski said. The figure does not include the cost of borrowing money. The projects include:
·$5 million to remodel the former downtown YMCA to house the work-release program, the detoxification center, and the adult probation department.
·$1.4 million to renovate the county jail to make room for an additional 117 inmates.
·$5.87 million to renovate the county jail to make room for an additional 117 inmates.
·$1.78 million to expand the Child Study Institute, a juvenile pre-trial detention facility, to hold an additional 23 youths.
·$2.1 million to build a juvenile treatment center.
·$2.7 million for renovation of the Family Court Center.
·$200,000 to repair a retaining wall at the Child Study Institute.
·$175,000 to remodel the booking area at the jail.

Despite 1,500 yard signs with the message "Lock 'em up." Lucas County voters resoundingly defeated two proposed increases in the county sales tax by a two-to-one ratio. The results represented a resounding victory for Citizens for Fair Taxation, the group formed by barber Dawn Daunhauer….

Commissioner Keith Wilkowski told a group made up mostly of county workers and Democrats at the Toledo Police Patrolmen’s Association headquarters that the sales-tax increase will gain approval the next time it's on the ballot. Mr. Wilkowski continued to stress that the sales-tax increase centered on public safety, since most of the money would have gone toward projects such as renovating the jail to accommodate an additional 117 inmates and renovating the former downtown YMCA building to house 125 inmates in the work-release program.

…We will be back because the problem will not go away… Mr. Wilkowski said he favors a special election Aug. 7 to keep the issue separate from what is expected to be a large Toledo school levy.

1 comment:

chrismyers said...

Good work Karen, thanks for the post.