Voters approved a 3.85-mill, five-year additional police levy by a margin of 1,043 votes — more than double the margin of the November defeat of the same measure.
The Mahoning County Board of Elections reported Tuesday night that 4,655 residents voted for the levy compared with 3,612 voting against it. In November, voters rejected the same measure with 8,473 against and 8,043 for, a difference of 430 votes.
The levy will generate about $3.8 million annually designated for the police department and cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $117 annually. Nearly 2,000 ballots were cast before Tuesday, most from mailed-in absentee ballots, said Board of Elections Director Thomas McCabe. Of those ballots, 68.3 percent were for the police levy.
Voter turnout was about 26 percent, within the 25- to 30-percent range the board had predicted, McCabe said.
“We’ve said Boardman’s at a crossroads and the public has spoken,” said Trustee Chairman Thomas Costello. “... Now we have to fulfill our promises. We’ve laid out our game plan, and now we have the ability to implement it.”
That game plans refers to the trustees’ pledge to hire these positions over the next two years: 10 additional police officers, one diversion specialist, one advocate, one crime analyst, one secretary, two records clerks and two dispatchers.
The township will begin collecting money from this police levy in 2012 — and Costello said that voters should not see any requests for new money for at least five years.
Township administrator Jason Loree said, “There’s every expectation that we can stretch this levy for at least five years but probably 10 years.”
George Farris, a member of the Boardman Coalition Against Crime, which advocated for the levy, called Tuesday’s outcome a “mandate.”
“It’s clear it was an important issue to [residents],” Farris said. “It sent a clear message that we’re starting a new chapter in Boardman. ... We’re drawing a line in the sand and determining our own future.”
Trustees have said, pending levy approval, the amount of money going to the police budget from the general fund would be scaled back by about $2.4 million.
The police budget will see an overall increase from $7.1 million, the budget for 2011, to $8.5 million in 2012.
In 2008, 62.8 percent of township voters approved a 2.2-mill police and fire levy that now generates about $2 million annually.
A continuing levy approved in the early 1970s now generates about $1.5 million annually.
Voters in Trumbull County also approved levy requests Tuesday.
In Bazetta Township, 59.2 percent of voters were in favor of a renewal police levy and 51.7 percent in favor of a roads replacement levy.
The 1.8-mill police levy will raise $254,800 per year for five years, just as it does now. The 0.6-mill, five-year roads replacement levy would raise $98,994 per year. It currently raises $50,375 annually.