The city of East Palestine is on the edge of the Ohio Pennsylvania state line. The city has a population of around 4,000 people but they are having problems staffing first responders.
The mayor and some council members have a possible solution, an income tax increase.
City council members are torn on if they should ask neighbors for more money to help with the city’s problem. But some are concerned if the money will help the city or just dig into their pockets.
“I want to see this town do better,” East Palestine’s Mayor Alan Cohen said.
The question was whether or not to dig in their communities pockets by asking for a 0.5 percent income tax increase.
“Fifty percent of the money that will be realized from the tax increase will be allocated to our safety forces,” Mayor Cohen said.
Right now 18 out of 24 hours there is only one patrolman on duty because of the city’s shrinking budget.
Which means if they get called to one situation it could take a while before they reach another call.
“How many people are going to die before 2020 when this goes into effect,” one resident asked.
The mayor says the income tax would generate about $200,000 for the city’s police, firefighters and EMS.
City Councilman Yokley isn’t sure the income tax would stop the villages financial bleeding.
“Does that put a band-aid on a bullet wound,” Yokley asked.
Yokley believes the income tax will push people away from living in East Palestine.
“I think people would be willing to pay that extra point five percent if we had that. An exceptional police, fire, and EMS. An exceptional parking, excellent streets,” Mayor Cohen said.
For now, council and neighbors are still torn on whether the tax increase will help or hurt the village. Council still has some time before deciding to put the issue up for a vote on the ballot.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show that the proposed tax increase is 0.5 percent, not 1.5 percent. We’re sorry for the mistake.