Canton Considers Joining the List of Ohio Cities Asking for Local Tax Hikes

Jan 29, 2018

Mayor Tom Bernabei says his city -- like others in Northeast Ohio -- has been hit hard by dwindling population and increasing poverty. The comprehensive plan City Council adopted before he became mayor called for targeted investment in five areas to rejuvenate the city.
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Canton is likely to follow the lead of nearly every other major city in the state – and many smaller ones – by asking voters to OK a hike in the city’s income tax. But WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, there are some differences in the Canton plan. 1

City Council will need to pass the ordinance boosting the income tax from 2 to 2.5 percent next week in order hit the Feb. 7 deadline to get it on the May ballot.

Mayor Tom Bernabei estimates the increase would raise about $11.5 million. Like other cities, he says Canton has suffered because the state cut local government funds and estate taxes. But he acknowledges Canton's problems with population loss and poverty – identified in a comprehensive plan two years ago -- go well beyond that.

“It complicated our problems; it complicated all of the cities’ problems. But that money in and of itself -- $2 million to $3 million a year -- would not have answered the needs, the very, very large needs that the comprehensive plan describes.”

If the tax passes, 60 percent of the money would be designated for economic development and rejuvenation in five key areas of the city: around its two hospitals, the Timken Co., downtown and in the corridor that leads to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But the city also would allot about $1.5 million for police and fire, and more than a million dollars each for street repairs and for renewal in neighborhoods outside those zones.

Here's a sampling of municipal income tax rates in Ohio. For a complete list, click here:

  • Akron: 2.5% (increase from 2.25% in November)
  • Cincinnati: 2.1 %
  • Cleveland: 2.5 %
  • Columbus: 2.5 %
  • Dayton: 2.5%
  • Euclid: 2.85%
  • Lorain: 2.5%
  • Toledo: 2.25%
  • Youngstown: 2.75%

Here's more on Canton's plan:

  • Canton collects about $46 million a year with its 2% income tax.
  • A half-percent increase would bring in about $11.5 million.
  • 20 percent, or $2.3 million, would to into the general fund with two-thirds designated for police and fire. 
  • 10 percent, of $1.15 million, would to to capital improvements, primarily streets and road repairs.
  • 10 percent, or $1.15 million would go for neighborhood renewal outside the core areas identified in the comprehensive plan.
  • 60 percent of the money, or $6.9 million, would be designated for targeted investment areas:
  •      Around Aultman Hospital
  •      Around Mercy Hospital
  •      Downtown
  •      Around the Timken Company
  •      The corridor neighborhoods connecting downtown to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Bernabei emphasized that none of the money would be dedicated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village project)