In talking to several people who have read the articles in the Tribune, I realized there is confusion about the outcome of the police levy, if it is passed. So I emailed the City Auditor, Annette Landers, for an explanation. She graciously and expeditiously replied with a detailed 11 paragraph email.
Two of the key components of her email are: 1. The 1 percent increase will generate about $1.5 million to be placed in a separate fund for the use of the police department only. 2. Currently, the police department is spending about $1.2 million, which is funded by the city out of its general fund.
What this means is that the police department will have an additional $300,000 to spend. They surely need it. Since the city will no longer have to fund the police, they will have an additional $1.2 million available for other programs. So it is kind of a misnomer to call it a police levy since the police department is only getting about $300,000 and the city general fund is getting the rest. On the ballot it will say “public safety.” I understand that it is the section of the law they had to use to enact it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The city needs money and lots of it. The general fund has been reduced by about $1 million due to state cutbacks of about $750,000 , elimination of estate tax revenues and other factors such as the recession. The city has made drastic cutbacks to remain within the budget and the city manager and the city auditory have taken 20 percent pay cuts. (Ouch!) Many cities across Ohio have been raising their income tax this year. This $1.2 million will just get the city back to where they were about five years ago.
None of us want to pay more income tax and I normally would frown upon a tax increase. This year, I may have to make an exception.