Residents weigh in on property tax increase

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati city residents spoke out against the proposed property tax increase Monday during a public hearing at city hall.

Jessie Sears, a former city worker, showed up to the hearing ready to have her voice heard.

"I feel we pay enough in taxes," she said. "All our other bills are going up and we're limited in how much money we have. We cannot afford to pay any more in taxes."

Sears wants to see city council members pull together the money without dipping into property owners' pockets.

"No one wants their property tax raised and no one wants to raise the property tax," council member Roxanne Qualls said. "But we do have to find a balance."

Qualls says after the public comment, council members were briefed on the first results of a priority driven budget process. The interactive report that pulled together city data and residents' responses to help council find ways to trim any meat that may be left on the bone of the city budget.

"That showed potential significant areas of savings so that is going to feed into this whole discussion of whether that property tax [change] is necessary," she explained.

"It's nice to be able to look at specific budget items and say 'Here is maybe where we can find some savings,' but we're not going to find 40.8 million dollars," Christopher Smitherman said. "That's a smoke screen. That's a tap dance."

Smitherman argues the city needs to find more ways to cut spending and defer revenues funding city projects like the Streetcar back to the general budget.

"They're not willing to reduce expenses and they're transferring that burden to citizens," Smitherman said.

A council committee will take up the topic again on Monday. A decision is required by the end of the month.

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