Thursday, March 01, 2007

Reprint from the Tribune-Chronicle

Residents’ tax burden gets painful

When Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams ran as an independent candidate, many Democrats speculated that he was a Republican in disguise.

Williams’ recent comments about raising taxes should sufficiently debunk that pre-election myth.

Williams recently told Mahoning County commissioners they should not seek a half-percent sales tax renewal. A true Republican would have added that the commissioners should work with what they have and take the tax off the books. But Williams instead told commissioners they should increase it to 1 percent and make it permanent.

‘‘It’s painfully obvious that the county cannot run on less than 1 percent,’’ Williams said.

The only thing painfully obvious is local residents’ tax burden.

County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti had said the board was considering three options: request renewing the half-percent sales tax for another five-year term, request a 10-year renewal or request a permanent levy. Hopefully Traficanti and his colleagues will ignore Williams’ suggestion.

Williams wants more help from the county to follow through on his recent zero-tolerance criminal position. After a quadruple homicide further highlighted Youngstown’s violent reputation, Williams ordered a 30-day police blitz to capture every undesirable no matter how insignificant the offense.

Youngstown police are now flooding the county court system with all those undesirables. Their efforts will be thwarted if the county has trouble prosecuting the cases quickly or if the county runs out of jail space.

But Williams found a way to target crime without increasing Youngstown’s taxes. So, too, must county commissioners find a way to handle the criminal influx without increasing taxes.

It is a matter of priority.

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