Everything will be cut if the levy fails, the council president says.
CAMPBELL -- City council isn't taking no for an answer.
Three months after a 5-mill, five-year operating levy was soundly rejected by city voters, council has decided to trot it out again.
Council members voted 5-0 at a special meeting Saturday morning to put the levy on the May 3 ballot.
The city government is operating under "fiscal emergency" status with the state, and without a new infusion of cash from taxpayers, it will have to make drastic cuts in services, city officials warned.
If the levy is rejected again, "we'll have to cut fire, police, everything," Council President Robert P. Yankle said.
Taxpayers should recognize that city officials already have scrubbed the budget and made cuts at many levels, he said. Among the adjustments since last year: Street department employees have been laid off, firefighters and police officers who retired have not been replaced and city hall employees have shouldered additional duties, Yankle said.
"We've cut and cut and cut," Yankle said. "We're at bare bones now."
Last year, a seven-member state-mandated commission developed a fiscal recovery plan for the city that included the five-year levy. The commission recommended that the proposal be returned to the ballot if it was rejected by voters the first time around, Yankle said.
In last fall's election, the tax proposal failed by a vote of 3,038-1,717.
Another hard sell
Council members acknowledged that the levy will be a hard sell. In this city of 9,640 residents, about a third of the adult population is working, a third is retired and a third is on government assistance, Yankle said.
Public meetings will be scheduled for city officials to explain the levy to voters.
Council members and Mayor John E. Dill and his staff need to be ready to show residents what further cuts will have to be made if the tax proposal is not successful, 1st Ward Councilman Michael Tsikouris said.
"The people are going to have a lot of questions," 2nd Ward Councilman Bryan K. Tedesco said. "We have to be honest with them. We've got to have the numbers to show them what's happening."