Debate heats up over Issue 22 - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Debate heats up over Issue 22

(PHOTO: FOX19 NOW/ Jordan Vilines) (PHOTO: FOX19 NOW/ Jordan Vilines)

On Thursday, opinions were heard and issues were hashed out during the final debate regarding the Parks Charter Amendment.  

Mayor John Cranley hopes to modify Cincinnati's charter to raise money for city parks but his proposal has the opposition pushing back.

There were a lot of topics laid out on the table during the forum held at the Urban Artifact Brewery in Northside but one of the biggest points of contention was whether the city should focus more on preserving the parks or if the city should renovate them instead.

Some folks at the forum said they don't want to have to elaborate parks throughout the city but the mayor disagreed, using Smale Park as an example of improving the city by putting money into the parks. 

The debate over Issue 22 was also breached Thursday afternoon outside of City Hall where councilmembers and community members gathered to voice their opposition of the issue.

“We don't need to create a special slush fund in order for our park system to continue to be best in the country,” said Councilmember Chris Seelbach during the gathering. “Please vote no to Issue 22.” 

After Mayor John Cranley heard what Councilmember Seelbach said, he contacted FOX19 NOW to express his opinion on the issue.

“We still want to improve and renovate the parks but we can’t do it with existing resources without jeopardizing existing basic services,” Mayor Cranley expressed. “We are asking people for a small tax increase, $35 per $100,000 dollar household. I think it’s worth the value but it’s in the voters hands and that’s how I think it should be instead of being opposed by city council."

Cranley continued to voice his opinion at the forum Thursday night.

“If you believe in maintaining and preserving our parks, vote yes. It’s that simple,” Cranley said.

This decision might be simple for some but many are still trying to make up their minds whether to vote for Issue 22. 

Supporters say the levy will help renovate city parks as budget cuts have left only $1.3 million for annual maintenance, which has left many in disrepair considering that parks take up 10 percent of city land. 

On the flip side, opponents say the ballot language is unclear as is how much money would be spent. Some people also don't want to pay the extra $35 dollars a year in property taxes. 

"When we say it's a permanent tax, it literally is a permanent one that will never go away so whether you like what’s going on over time or your priorities change, there’s just no way to repeal this tax and that's not a good way to go," said a member of the opposition during Thursday’s forum.

As the debate concluded, the opposing sides stood firm on their convictions so now, we'll just have to wait and see how the voters feel on this polarizing issue come Tuesday. 

If the issue passes, the mayor has proposed 16 projects that would be funded by bonds with money from the property tax increase, the completion of Smale Park being one of them.

“The Smale infrastructure tax was a charter amendment. All the property taxes are charter amendment, it's the only option we have,” Mayor Cranley said.

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