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TRUMBULL COUNTY Various local issues will be on ballot



Published: Mon, October 25, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



Hubbard voters are being asked to approve an income tax increase.

By STEPHEN SIFF and

DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Five billboards around Trumbull County and 600 cable television advertisements have been urging voters to pass the only countywide issue on the November ballot.

Lifelines, the county's alcohol, drug addiction and mental health services board, is asking voters to approve a levy that would raise an additional $1 million annually for services.

Also, voters in several Trumbull townships and villages will have to dig deeper into their pockets if levies on the ballot ranging from police and fire protection to road and bridge maintenance are approved.

About 20,000 people received help from Lifelines in the last year, not including preventive or educational programs, Lifelines director Nick Ceglia said.

The agency is seeking a 1-mill, 10-year replacement levy.

If passed, the levy would take the place of a levy set to expire at the end of the year that generates $2.4 million a year.

Voters have rejected new Lifeline levies three times since 2000. But statewide, Ceglia said replacement levies have faired much better at the polls.

The replacement levy would generate more money because properties will be taxed according to their current assessed values, officials say.

The difference will be $1 a month for owners of a $100,000 home, Ceglia said.

He said the money is needed to continue Lifelines' funding for agencies including Belmont Pines, Burdman Group Inc., Catholic Charities Regional Agency, Children's Rehabilitation Center and Community Solutions Association.

Hubbard tax

In Hubbard, residents are being asked to approve a 0.5 percent income tax increase. If approved, the city income tax would increase to 1.5 percent.

Mayor Art Magee said the tax would generate about $900,000 after the first two years. It's been earmarked for a new jail.

The current building, which Magee calls a safety center because it houses police, fire and ambulance, was built in 1870. A couple of years ago, mold was found in the building, and last year the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents city police officers filed a lawsuit against the city, citing health concerns for those who work there.

The cost for a new building is estimated at about $1 million, and Magee said there would be consideration given to taking out a loan to begin construction right away if voters give the tax increase the nod.

Money generated by the increase also would be set aside for infrastructure projects like a street improvement program and measures to address flooding, the mayor said.

"Hubbard used to be known as having some of the best streets in the county," Magee said. "Now, it's some of the worst."

Girard twin levies

Twin levies on the ballot in Girard would prevent further cutbacks in the fire and police department staffing.

Two 3-mill, five-year levies would each raise $375,000, said Mayor James Melfi.

In the past four years, the city has cut eight full-time police jobs and four full-time fire jobs, he said. Employees have accepted contracts that include no pay raises for three years and a lower pay rate for new hires. Yet the city still faces a projected $300,000 budget shortfall next year.

"We have cut to the bare bones," Melfi said. "There is no other way to balance the budget than with personnel costs."

Further cuts at the police or fire departments would jeopardize the quality of service, he said.

If passed, officials would not use levy funds to hire more employees, Melfi said. Rather, the money would be spent on current costs and debt.

Elsewhere

Other issues on the ballot:

UBraceville: 1-mill replacement levy, continuing, to provide and maintain police protection.

UBrookfield: a question or whether or not to adopt zoning for the township.

UBrookfield: 2-mill additional levy, five years, to provide and maintain police protection.

UGustavus: 3-mill renewal, five years, to provide ambulance service, emergency medical service, or both.

ULiberty: replace and decrease by 0.1 mills, continuing levy to provide and maintain fire protection.

UMcDonald: 1.5-mill renewal levy, five years, to provide for current operating expenses.

UMecca: 0.75-mill renewal levy, four years, to provide and maintain fire protection.

UNewton Falls: an ordinance for proposed charter amendments.

UNewton Falls Joint Fire District: 1-mill renewal levy, five years, to provide and maintain fire protection.

UNewton Township: replace and increase 2.75-mill levy, continuing, to provide and maintain vehicles and other equipment for the police department and pay police personnel.

UOrangeville: 4-mill replacement levy, continuing, to provide and maintain fire apparatus, appliances, buildings and sites.

UWarren Township: 1.5-mill additional levy, five years, to provide and maintain police protection.

UWarren Township: 1-mill renewal levy, five years, for general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of streets, roads and bridges.

UWest Farmington: 6.6-mill renewal levy , five years, current operating expense for the village.

UYankee Lake: 2.5-mill additional levy, continuing, to provide and maintain fire equipment and buildings and to pay firefighters through a contract with Brookfield.




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