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Trustees go for 2.4 replacement plus .8 additional levy

February 8, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

On Jan. 29, Austintown Township Trustees met in a special session to select the levy from a field of four choices that will appear on the May ballot. Voters will be looking at a 2.4 mill replacement levy plus a .8 mill addition.

Trustees had approved getting four levy options certified at the earlier regular meeting so they could see actual dollar amounts.

"We're not putting four levies on the ballot," he said "We are just getting the dollar amounts for [each option]."

The selected levy would bring in around $933,000 and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home just $52.50 per year.

Township Administrator Mike Dockry said the 2.4 mill levy is a police levy originally passed in 1994. It is a continuous levy, which makes a big difference on when it would kick in.

Dockry said when a replacement to a continuous levy is approved, it takes effect in the following year.

"It will be on the ballot this coming May," he said. "If passed, it would collect in 2019 and the township would get the funds in 2019."

As to how the township got in this position, it came from changes in Ohio tax laws and less funds coming back to the township from state taxes. Dockry said it involves three different revenue items.

The first is the personal property and commercial activity tax. This is the tax businesses used to pay on inventory. In 2010, the police department alone received $350,200. The tax gradually decreased with the phase out and in 2016, Austintown Police received $12,361. For 2017, that tax has went away and the police received nothing.

The second item, which saw funds going into the township's general fund was the estate tax. In 2010, Austintown received $637,585 from estate taxes. In 2012, the estate tax ended, but the township continued to receive funds from deaths that occurred in 2012 or earlier. Over time that continued to decrease and the township got nothing in 2017.

The third item is the state's local government fund. This money comes from sales and income tax collections, of which some is returned to the township to help with operations. In 2010, Austintown received $513,063 and in 2017 saw a reduction down to $305,446.

Also getting zero dollars in 2017 were the township's general fund, the road fund, the fire fund and the park fund. The total decrease from these funds since 2010 has come in at a staggering $6,400,559.

One other factor Dockry said affects the bottom line is inflation.

He said the township continues to look at ways to keep costs down, but when the revenue stream is cut so severely, there is no where else to go but to the taxpayer. The police department was also the obvious choice to secure since it has the most employees.

Trustee Jim Davis said presently there are 40 officers covering the township. Of that number, seven are funded by grants either fully or partially. He said those 40 officers are doing the job of 60 officers in similar-sized communities, but the effects of lost funds is making it hard to maintain that level

"We can't continue to provide services with less and less money," Davis said.

Trustee Ken Carano said, "We've tightened up our belt and have run out of holes."

The other three choices that weren't selected included a .8 mill replacement, a 2.4 mill replacement, and a 1 mill additional.

The selected 2.4 mill replacement plus .8 mill additional will return the 1994 levy to 2.4 mills. It is presently collecting at 1.7 mills. Plus the addition of a .8 mill levy.

"I would hope this would secure the police department for at least six to seven years," Dockry said. "Under the right conditions, we may be able to get 10 years out of it."



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