CRAIG BEACH 2 councilmen protest proposal to levy 1% income tax in village
The councilman said that the tax will allow the council to rehire their 'buddies.'
By IAN HILL
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CRAIG BEACH -- Village Councilman Dennis Champion objects to the creation of a 1-percent village income tax.
Yet he's not planning to attend tonight's special meeting to vote on the tax.
Champion said he already has other plans for tonight. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the municipal building.
Craig Beach Mayor Camille Gaia III said a village attorney has advised him that only three of the five council members need to attend the meeting for a legal vote. Four of the council members most likely will be there.
Both Champion and Councilman Larry Ellis said they object to the proposed tax and the manner in which it has been addressed by the council.
"I think they're trying to shove it down the people's throats," Ellis said.
Council gave first reading for the proposed tax at a special meeting May 24.
The second reading was at a special meeting Tuesday.
Ellis noted that the public is not given the opportunity to speak at a special meeting. He added that he did not know the second reading was held.
Another matter: Champion, meanwhile, said he feels Gaia and the other three council members want to pass the tax so they can rehire their friends on the village's police force.
Council laid off a full-time police officer and two part-time officers in 1999. The village police chief chose to retire early.
"These people are just in it for their friends, that's it." Champion said. "The only reason is they want their buddies back. They're not looking out for the well-being of the people."
Gaia, however, said council needs to approve the income tax so the village can provide services to residents this year.
He added that while he is on "friendly terms" with the former police chief, he would not offer his friends a job that pays the chief's salary.
The chief makes $340 each week, he said.
"Who in their right mind would offer their friend a job that pays that little?" Gaia said.
Here's the situation: The village needs an income tax that will generate $70,000 annually to help pay for the police and street departments and the village administration, Gaia said. If it is approved, the 1-percent income tax would take effect July 1.
The village receives most of the money for its budget from property taxes.
In 1998 council repealed a 1-percent income tax that generated about $90,000 each year. As a result, council laid off all nonelected employees except for the village solicitor.
Without full-time employees, Gaia said he was forced to do much of the street work and snowplowing in the village at the beginning of the year.
"This year I can't afford to do that," he said.
Gaia also noted that this year the village is required to pay the state $14,000 in auditor's fees.
In addition, he said that a judge has ordered the village to start paying the former police chief $11,000 each year as part of an early retirement package.
If the 1-percent income tax is not approved, Gaia said the village will run out of money to pay for services in October or November.