Council OKs placing fire levy on ballot

The police department's expenses have increased since the levy was first passed.
NEW MIDDLETOWN -- Residents here will vote on a fire levy and possibly a police levy in the November general election.
Village council agreed unanimously at its meeting Monday to put a 2.5-mill replacement levy for the New Middletown Volunteer Fire Department on the ballot in the November general election.
However, council fell one vote short of the votes necessary to suspend the three-reading rule to put a 4-mill police levy on the ballot. The millage would include 3 replacement mills and 1 additional.
More meetings
To pass the two additional readings necessary before the ballot deadline, they have set special meetings for 6 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Village Administration Building. The deadline in late August.
After the meeting, Mayor Robert Carson warned that failure to pass the police levy could mean "drastic cuts in safety forces," which could jeopardize safety of residents.
Council member Dan Santangelo voted against suspending the three-reading rule to put the police levy on the ballot. He would not comment on the reason for his vote. Since only five of the six council members attended the meeting, Santangelo's "no" vote defeated suspension of the rules because all five council members attending would have had to support it to meet the three-fourths majority needed to pass it Monday night. The missing council member was Dan Stanton, who was out of town.
The first reading on a motion to put the 4-mill levy on the ballot did pass, however, with Santangelo again casting the dissenting vote. Only a simple majority was needed to pass the first reading.
Santangelo had questioned the need for a replacement levy for the fire department, instead of a renewal, and had abstained from the vote to suspend the rules for that vote also, before changing his mind and voting in favor of the suspension of rules and also to place the fire levy on the ballot.
Clerk-Treasurer Carl Flitcraft Jr. explained that voters would see taxes rise slightly even if they replace a 2.5-mill levy with another because a levy cannot bring more than it did the first year it was passed. The 2.5-mill fire levy was passed five years ago. But as property values increase, less money per year is collected from each taxpayer. A renewal would keep taxes at the same level. But a replacement collects the 2.5 mills on the actual current property values.
Flitcraft said the additional due to the replacement wouldn't amount to much. "You're talking two, three dollars a year," he said.
Carson said, after the meeting, that when the a 3-mill levy was passed for the police department five years ago, it had one full-time officer. Now it has three full-time and several part-time officers.
Hospitalization insurance costs for the full-timers have more than doubled in the interim.
The police department levy does not cover its expenses and the village general fund will supplement the department expenses by about $80,000 this year.
This spring, Springfield Local schools agreed to pay $36,000 to continue having one village police officer work at the schools during the school year as a School Resource Officer. The expenses for the job were formerly covered by a grant. The school's contribution will ease expenses a little in 2005 but the village will still have to take about $55,000 from the general fund to keep the department going.

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