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West Liberty tax burden becoming unbearable

How much is enough? Two years ago statistics indicated 52 percent of every dollar earned ends up paying some type of tax. In the last year and one half, village of West Liberty residents have been hit with new taxes from the Macochee Joint Ambulance Service, the village income tax and most recently a new school tax. These taxes will push that $.52 from every dollar to a new high. When will we say “enough is enough”? The school tax is particularly perplexing because 20 some years ago we came together as a community to levy the fairest form of taxation to fund our school’s permanent improvements program with a 1⁄2 percent district-wide income tax. Many of us, who are senior citizens now, voted for the income tax because it seemed to be the answer to this issue indefinitely. Not only would everyone pay an equal share of their income but the costs for senior citizens would decrease as incomes decreased and/or became fixed. The idea of the income tax being the fairest form of taxation was that those families with children in school would be the younger working adults with higher non-fixed incomes. This concept was discussed numerous times at various community meetings. Well, we have gone through the first 1⁄2 percent, passed a second 1⁄2 percent — gone through that, and increased that to 11⁄2 percent and gone through that. We have tripled the original income tax, plus 1⁄4 percent, and now have added a 3.62 mill property tax which we were led to believe would never again be necessary. The levy passed at a special election with little more than half the usual number of total votes recorded during a generation election. In the last general election this issue was defeated and most likely would have been defeated again if it were not for the special election. This may secure someone’s job and future but it certainly does not secure the futures of senior citizens.

The village introduced a one percent income tax levy without voter approval. I talked with several elected officials and was told two departments in the village were no longer self-supporting and all options were explored with everything being put on the table and there were no options. We were told that there had been no new taxes levied in over 50 years by the village. Well, this is only partially true. We have had our properties re-evaluated on more than one occasion that has resulted in more tax revenue. In 1967 when I got married, I set up residency in West Liberty with a water, sewer and trash bill of $6 per month. The current bill is $73.41 per month. That is more per month than originally paid in a year. Multiply that difference by 600 residences. Maybe that is not a tax but surely serves the same purpose. I realize that increases will be necessary as costs go up but please don’t tell us there are no options. There are always options. My question is what percentage of my income is enough? Does it stop here or is it 60 percent, 75 percent or is it actually not enough until it is 100 percent?

Grumpy old ex-mayor,
Rick Zerkle

West Liberty

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