Boardman residents speak up in support of cop levy
By Ashley Luthern
Township residents voiced their opinions at a trustees meeting Monday about next Tuesday’s police levy vote.
The majority of people who addressed the trustees said they support the 3.85-mill, five-year additional police levy that will appear on the ballot.
Ed Lugibihl, a township resident for more than 60 years, said he sympathizes with those who say they can’t afford more taxes but that he will vote for the levy.
“It’s time for us as citizens of Boardman to step up,” he said.
The levy would generate about $3.8 million annually earmarked specifically for the police department and cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $117 annually. About 70 people attended the meeting Monday during which the police levy dominated the discussion.
Jim Rosa, who was a part of a business advisory group for the township, said he supports the levy because he knows the township’s financial sit-uation.
“Finances were dwindling, and we’ve seen changes in personal property tax and estate tax, pushing greater responsibility to us,” Rosa said.
One concern among the few residents who said they opposed the levy was that some general-fund money currently going to the police department would be returned to the general fund.
Trustees have said the entire $3.8 million generated annually by the police levy would go to the police department, and the department’s annual budget would increase overall from $7.1 million to $8.5 million. However, about $2.4 million of the police department’s existing budget would be returned to the general fund.
Administrator Jason Loree said trustees wanted to restrict the $3.8 million generated annually by the levy to the police department. If a general-fund levy were put on the ballot, instead of one just for police, the money generated by it could be used at the discretion of current and future trustees, he said.
“This will secure [the police budget] at a base level,” he said.
Trustees have said that if the levy is approved next week, the following positions will be filled within two years: 10 police officers, one diversion specialist, one advocate, one crime analyst, one secretary, two records clerks and two dispatchers.
Trustee Chairman Thomas Costello said the township would begin hiring in 2012, when money from the levy would first be collected, and that it would take possibly up to two years to hire all 10 officers because of the civil-service process and training time.
In the early 1970s, Boardman voters approved a police district that included a continuing levy that now generates about $1.5 million annually. Voters in 2008 also approved a safety levy for both police and fire services, generating about $2 million annually.
Most of the residents who spoke at Monday’s trustees meeting said they will support this levy, too.
“I own property in Youngstown,” said Dan Allen, a truck driver. “I can’t sell it, and I can’t afford to buy another house. I don’t want to see what happened in Youngstown happen to Boardman.”