By Jordan Cohen
NILES — Mayor Ralph Infante said he has an idea what the city can do with those $10 license-plate fees it did not want to collect.
“I’m thinking we should kick it into a road project,” Infante said at Wednesday night’s council session. “That might be the best option.”
Council had passed two $5 license-plate fees last October so that it could collect them only if a similar countywide issue passed last November.
When voters rejected the county issue, council voted to repeal the fees, but the repeal in December came too late to stop collection for this year. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles informed the city that repeal had to be approved 90 days before the end of 2009.
The two fees are expected to generate $180,000 in revenue and will be collected only this year. The repeal takes effect in 2011 and does not affect a $5 tax that has been collected in Niles for several years.
Last month, the mayor and several council members discussed the possibility of applying the money to water- and electric-bill refunds; however, Infante said that suggestion is no longer an option.
“It’s out of the picture,” the mayor said. “They even told us at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles it would be almost impossible to try to do refunds that way.”
Infante and council members have scheduled what they refer to as “a roundtable discussion” in the mayor’s office next Tuesday afternoon to discuss Infante’s road-project proposal along with other possibilities. The mayor did not say what project he has in mind.
In other legislation, council unanimously approved a contract with the union representing nine ranking police officers. The mayor said the contract is identical to an earlier one reached with the city’s 25 patrolmen that includes a three-year wage freeze but no changes in benefits. The officers’ union is to vote today.
Bargaining with the last of the three unions representing four full-time dispatchers is pending.
Treasurer Robert Swauger informed council that income-tax receipts were down for 2009 by more than $364,000, but the figure is less than the $400,000 originally projected due to earlier-than-anticipated tax payments from several companies.
“For 2010, I expect our collections to be flat, and we’ll probably take in around $5.5 million, about the same as in 2009,” Swauger said, “however, that’s dependent upon having no more business closings and job losses in the city.”