City Hall’s determination to set a tax rate of 81.5 cents for every $100 of assessed value will be a key factor in the final days of the campaign for City Council. Although rising assessments will still increase the average tax bill by $259, incumbent members are calling the proposal “the ten-cent rate reduction” because the current rate is 91.5 cents for every $100 of assessed values. With the city election set for May 2, some people are questioning the motives of incumbent council members.
“Christmas comes at election time,” said Republican candidate Townsend Van Fleet.
Councilman Rob Krupicka said that the City Council has worked hard to bring down spending, adding that complaints about the rising cost of government ignore cost drivers such as health care and gas prices. He said that Republican calls to cap spending increases at 3 percent aren’t realistic — singling out candidate Pat Troy, who operates an Irish restaurant on North Pitt Street.
“Mr. Troy can offer you a free lunch in his restaurant, but I don’t think it works well in the city budget,” Krupicka said at a recent candidates forum.
Campaigning Gets Personal
With the May 2 election date drawing near, the campaign is getting increasingly personal. At a recent forum at the Departmental Progressive Club, Republican candidate Craig Miller accused incumbent City Council members of polarizing the community and demagoging issues — adding that some council members were in government for “personal gain.”
“I would bring a level of civility to the City Council,” Miller said.
Ludwig Gains shot back. He said that he was not in politics for personal gains, and that he was concerned about all city residents — especially homeless people who have recurring problems with substance abuse and mental illness.
“I won’t try to sue the city if they want to move next door,” Gaines said.
Miller is currently suing the city over a proposed Safe Haven, which would provide apartments for mentally ill homeless people, near his Cameron Street home. After the debate, he took issue with Gaines’ remark.
“I don’t oppose Safe Haven, I oppose the process that selected this location,” Miller said after the forum. “I’ll get my day in court, and if I’m wrong I’m wrong.”
Unopposed, But Working Hard
Although Mayor Bill Euille is unopposed this year, he has been aggressively hitting the campaign trail for other Democratic candidates. With spring in full bloom, the mayor is concerned that spending so much time outdoors may be hazardous to his health.
“I’ve spent so much time on the campaign trail that I think I’ve caught a cold,” he said after a worksession at City Hall. “I feel exhausted.”
On a recent afternoon, Republican candidate Pat Troy was campaigning on a narrow sidewalk in Old Town when he was approached by a woman with a baby stroller. The sidewalk wasn’t big enough for the two of them, and the woman shouted to the candidate to move.
“I’m not voting for you unless you move,” she said.
Troy immediately jumped off the sidewalk to let the woman pass.
“I’ll move,” he exclaimed. “I’ll move!”