CLEVELAND — A look at a sampling of some of the dollar amounts Northeast Ohio cities will soon receive, and you can see how the state's total of $11.2 billion in total aid adds up: $4 million to a city like Mentor, to $66 million for Canton, $40.5 million for Cleveland Heights, and more than a half-billion for Cleveland — numbers that seem almost too good to be true.
"They're true,” Rep. Marcy Kaptur reassured News 5 Thursday. “You might remember about a year ago when under the prior president there was assistance major communities like Cleveland itself, the city of Cleveland was left out, the city of Lorain was left out, the city of Toledo was left out,” she said. “For the greater region, I’m just applauding because they were denied before.”
On top of being left out, Ohio cities were hit harder early on, and here's why: while most local governments across the country rely on slow-to-fluctuate property taxes to fund operations, a smaller percentage rely more heavily on sales taxes that still have stayed strong. But fewer than 10 percent rely on income taxes — a slim piece of the pie — that includes Ohio.
So when people aren't working, they're not generating income, and, in turn, income taxes.
Consider this: Cleveland gets 66% of its general revenue from income taxes, Toledo close to the same — 67.6%, Columbus even more so at 76%. That's why they ranked number one last spring in a study by the Brookings Institution looking at cities most likely to feel quicker the financial impacts of the crisis.
In fact, four of the top five cities on the list are from Ohio. Akron was 13th; the city made cuts and changes to prepare immediately last spring for the worst. News that $153 million is now headed their way is huge.
"We can actually go to our communities and say this is our plan to be able to do this and this is where we want to spend the money,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “So to me it's a real sigh of relief not only in Akron, but I know across the community, and across cities, across the country."