COLUMBUS, Ohio – Voters in Columbus, Ohio, soundly rejected a proposed $4-per-day car rental tax on Tuesday, Nov. 5, representing a major victory for local car rental operators and their customers.
Despite the backing of Mayor Michael B. Coleman and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, a meager 38% of all city voters favored the tax. If passed, the tax would have generated revenue for the city's general fund.
"This should go down in car rental history and serve as a model for future campaigns against car rental taxes," said Kevin Miles, who manages the local Budget Rent A Car franchise. "Seven different companies – licensees and corporate stores -- all came together to defeat this tax. Everybody worked together and spent money, time and energy to make this happen."
A coalition of car rental operators, working closely with the Ohio Taxpayers Association, placed the tax measure on the ballot through a petition drive. The city council passed the tax in June.
Leaders of the anti-tax campaign included Miles and Chris Ray of Budget Columbus, Thrifty licensee Michael Reynolds, Hertz licensee Blaine Byers, Kevin Ifkovits of Enterprise, Don Nystrom of Avis, Natalie Martin and Richard Martin with the local National Car Rental licensee, and Todd Greenleaf of Dollar Rent A Car. Scott Pullins, chairman of the Ohio Taxpayers Association, managed the campaign.
"Our grassroots efforts went a long way in educating the public -- even though early on, it seemed like the odds were stacked against us," said Ifkovits, city rental manager for Enterprise in Columbus. "There was so much misinformation given, and we heard that a lot of cities in Ohio were monitoring this vote very closely. It's nice to see the industry pull together to defeat this and try to shift the momentum."
A crucial element of the anti-tax campaign was refuting the city’s claim that only visitors would pay the tax. After all the local car rental companies submitted private financial data to an independent accounting firm, the firm concluded that local residents would represent 52% of those customers subject to the tax.
Other groups supporting the car rental coalition’s grassroots campaign included the Association for Car and Truck Rental Independents and the Ohio Alliance of Car Renting Agencies.