Perkins Township trustees on Tuesday reluctantly voted 3-0 to place a levy on November’s ballot, asking voters to raise property taxes strictly for road repairs.
Here’s a quick primer on the issue:
Q: Why did trustees vote to place a levy on the ballot?
A: In short, there’s not enough money in the township’s $10 million operating budget for road repairs.
The township, like many other local governments across Ohio, suffered deep financial cuts coming from the state. Couple this with property values collectively dropping in Perkins, and there’s about $1 million less per year for many key services, including road repairs.
Additionally, much of the $10 million is tied up and can only be used for police and fire services.
A road levy would secure funds solely directed for road enhancements and preservation.
Q: What does this mean now?
A: When township residents cast a vote in the November election, they’ll be asked whether they support an increase in township-based property taxes to pay specifically and only for road reconstruction, road resurfacing and road repairs.
If a majority of voters cast a “yes” vote, then the issue gets approved.
Q: How much will this cost me?
A: If approved, the average owner of a $100,000 home in Perkins will spend an additional $96.25 per year.
Q: How much is the millage? How long is levy for?
A: The 2.75-mill levy, if approved, would last for five years, beginning in 2015.
Q: How much money does the township need to fix all the roads?
A: Patching up all roads in the township would cost $19 million. The levy, however, only aims to create $1 million per year.
Trustees could have opted for a higher millage rate, thus aiming to collect more money, but didn’t want to overburden residents and businesses.
If approved, the levy would generate about $5 million now through 2019 strictly for road improvements.
Q: What roads will get paved first?
A: Township trustees and officials devised a master list of all 47 street miles under Perkins’ jurisdiction. They’d likely first improve roads ranking the worst on this list.
But trustees on Tuesday did indicate they would prioritize Boston Road, Didion Drive and Woodlawn Avenue for funding from this proposed levy if a majority of voters approve this issue in November.
Q: What’s at stake if a majority of the residents reject this issue?
A: Further neglect to roads could lead to both people and businesses shying away from and moving out of Perkins Township. Plus neglecting road repairs now means higher costs for taxpayers to eventually fix them later on.
Q: How did trustees arrive at placing a levy on the ballot?
A: For weeks, after compiling a master list, trustees weighed their options, examined potential budget outcomes and determined a levy would best suit their funding quandary.
Q: What reasons did each trustee provide for pushing forward with a road levy?
A: Each trustee seemed hesitant to pursue more taxes from residents. Yet all claimed they need to find money to enhance roads:
• Tim Coleman: I know a lot of residents who do not want a levy. I know a lot of residents that can’t afford a levy. But I am going to ask the voters to support this. I think this is due responsibility on our part to do this.
• Jeff Ferrell: No one wants to put more taxes onto the residents. But if we don’t do it, we will never solve this issue, and it will keep costing the township more and more money each year.
• Jim Lang: I don’t want to raise taxes for anyone, and I don’t want to put a levy on, however, in going over the budget, there is unfortunately not enough money. We are going to have to leave it up to voters to see if they want to pay more in taxes and get their roads done.
Q: Did anyone speak against the levy on Tuesday
A: Bogart Road resident Mary Bakewell did.
She expressed frustration with trustees seemingly ignoring road repairs in years past and only addressing this problem now by, once again, asking taxpayers for more money.
“Why is this now a ($19 million) problem? Why wasn’t this taken care of years ago? It’s always something: a fire levy, a police levy, a schools levy, a mental health levy, a parks levy. Everyone needs money, yet we are not getting the raises (to support constant tax increases). Where do you think your money is coming from? It’s driving people crazy.”