New Middletown vote has greater potential

New Middletown officials announced two weeks back that they are going to the polls with a special levy.

Residents will get the chance to vote on keeping 24-hour police service in the form of a 3-mill levy that will be put before them. New Middletown’s 24-hour police service became reality in part through President Barack Obama’s stimulus funds.

I think it’s unfair to get citizens hooked on a service and then draw more tax dollars out of them to continue it.

It’s the crack-dealer mentality: The first hit is always free.

In the 1990s, many communities said no to President Bill Clinton’s additional-police program for the same reason: Who pays once the federal funding runs out?

The packaging of this latest idea is off-putting:

Officials will let citizens decide if they want to pay $60,000 to maintain services that officials first started in part through a grant.

Here’s my thought:

New Middletown can be an experiment for all governments. Put the entire village budget before the citizens. Make a Facebook Budget page.

Here’s what The Columbus Dispatch is offering to folks who want to dabble in the state of Ohio’s fiscal mess — call it “You, too, can balance the budget.”

To see the Dispatch project, go to

I took two swipes at this and proudly submitted a state budget only $3.5 billion in debt — then I had to do Saturday morning laundry.

But I wasn’t offered pensions and economic- development departments as categories.

Do you know that before Mahoning County turned on one light in 2011, more than $11 million in taxes was committed to pensions? At Youngstown State University, it was more than $5 million, and for the city of Youngstown, it was more than $3 million.

New Middletown’s Facebook Budget page can ask citizens if they will pay more for overnight police service. But it also would let them look at the total budget and decide what else they will live without.

Perhaps New Middletown citizens have a savings opportunity with the other recent news in New Middletown — the fire chief’s retirement.

With fire services, New Middletown is, unfortunately, in a poor marriage (not necessarily its own doing) with the surrounding Springfield Township as it pertains to shared fire services. The two can’t live together.

Perhaps give citizens the chance to force a merger that village and township leaders can’t seem to make happen on their own.

The combined 7,600 residents of New Middletown/Springfield have two police departments and two fire districts.

And voters should OK adding $60,000 more to that hodgepodge?

I say give voters more choices in how to spend $60,000 — if you’re to give them one.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes e-mails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at He blogs, too, on

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