HODUNKVILLE - City Council approved raising the city income tax 1 cent Sunday to avoid layoffs and to expand city services. Council also rejected a plan to rezone a section of Forbes Avenue, which would have meant relocating a cemetery to build a supermarket.
Councilwoman Wilma Rudolph proposed the tax increase beginning next year to prevent layoffs of city workers.
City Treasurer Joe Black supported the tax because it will increase city revenue $600,000 annually, while costing the average family $40 per year. Black added that the tax will enable the city to expand services, such as increasing trash collections from once to twice per week.
Mayor Ray Sedecki opposed the tax increase. "I believe people are taxed too heavily now," he said.
Council approved the tax increase by a vote of 5-2.
Council also voted on the rezoning plan that would turn the Forbes Street Cemetery into a Giant Beagle supermarket. Carl Erskine of Premier Developments offered to pay the cost of relocating the graves to the nearby Peaceful Rest Cemetery. He added that his studies showed the supermarket would not affect traffic patterns along Forbes Street, an area now mostly zoned commercial.
Community residents spoke out about the rezoning, the large majority of them in opposition. Forbes Street resident Walt Dropo emphasized the historic nature of the the cemetery, which has graves of many city founders. Dropo, president of the Forbes Street Residents Association, said, "I can promise that we will mount a campaign to recall any council member who votes for this thing."
Most Forbes Street residents attending the meeting agreed with Dropo, except for Harry Walker. Walker said the supermarket would be good for the members of the community who have trouble getting to other stores.
Council rejected the rezoning plan 5-2.
In other action, Councilwoman Karen Carlson proposed a licensing fee for city morticians. The licensing would cost $150 per year for every mortician and funeral home operator in the city.
"We've got a considerable amount of morticians in the city now, and assessing a fee from them would bring in considerable revenue," Carlson said.
Disagreeing with Carlson was Don Blasingame, owner of Blasingame Funeral Home. He said that if the city enforced this policy, it would probably have to turn the money over to the state.The Ohio Revised Code, however, does not require the state to forfeit funeral fees to the state.
Council members decided to table the proposal.

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