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Levy would help offset cuts



Published: Sun, February 5, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.

By Elise Franco

efranco@vindy.com

Austintown

The township police chief wants to continue running his department at its current high standard.

Chief Robert Gavalier said with staff at its lowest point since the late 1980s, approving a levy for the police department might be the only way to make that happen.

The 2-mill levy, which would raise approximately $1.17 million annually for five years, is a replacement for the 1.6-mill police levy originally approved by voters in 1976.

Trustee Jim Davis said the current levy is collecting only about $357,000 annually, or 38 percent of its original valuation.

The additional 0.4 mills would generate about $794,000 annually and bring the levy back up to today’s valuation standards.

If approved, the new levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $10 to $12 per year. Those homeowners pay about $50 per year on the current levy, which would make the new tax total about $60 per year.

The police department also received $600,000 in 2011 from the township’s general fund. Gavalier said that amount will be significantly less in 2012 because of budget cuts from the state.

“This levy will mainly help us offset those funding cuts and keep us where we’re at now,” he said.

Gavalier said the department now has 36 full-time officers, nine fewer than at its peak in 2001.

He said the funding also would help to maintain current staffing levels by allowing him to fill positions when several officers retire over the next few years.

“We know we’ll never see that full staffing level again,” Gavalier said. “Right now, we’re asking the township to pass this levy to maintain the level of services they’ve come to expect.”

He said if the levy fails, those positions vacated due to retirement will remain open, bringing officer staffing levels even lower.

Gavalier said fewer officers likely would impact response time and time spent on certain types of cases.

“We’ve found if we take care of the small things such as curfew and liquor violations, the bigger things tend to take care of themselves,” he said. “If we stop handling the small crimes, we’ll start to lose hold of the situation.

“If we lose that grip we may never get it back.”

Davis said residents understand how important safety services are to the township, and he hopes they will vote in favor of the levy.

“People have seen the efforts and services provided by the police department,” he said. “Residents believe in what they do and won’t turn their backs on those [officers.]”

Gavalier said the department will continue to do its due diligence to the community regardless of the election’s outcome.


Comments

1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Just vote NO! Have the Austintown safety forces started to contribute more of their fair share to their healthcare? If not, why not? Only a property taxpaying fool would vote for this levy.

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2lee(544 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

No more tax. Starve the beast.

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3atowngrad(21 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Tax,tax,tax and more tax.

Money is needed for everything but all we hear anymore is levy, levy, levy....more, more, more.

The schools scared everyone into voting for the new levy because they said they would lose the money....they lied and everyone fell for it again. Are we going to see the same scare tactics with a police levy by saying that their forces would be cut?

There are always cops sitting around talking, you can always see at least two of them parked in opposite directions. Lately there has been a cop stationed in the walmart parking lot....are we paying for this or is walmart.

Drugs and crime, those are other issues that cant even be touched right now since there are so many documented cases of slaps on the wrist.....i digress.

But dont worry, Im sure the gullible taxpayers will foot the bill again for more money since everyone seems to have a money tree in their backyard to pull from whenever the public sector wastes away the tax dollars.

Cut the fat and show us what concessions the public employees are making...then maybe ill consider it.

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4atownfan(7 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Everyone needs to understand that the Police Dept did not get raises this year or last year and agreed no increase for the next 3 years. They contribute every pay period to their healthcare and have also gone to a different plan to cut additional costs. The levy is a replacement levy from one that had passed in the mid 1970's. The township has done pretty well. Wal Mart pays for the cops in the parking lots there to help with the shoplifting. All I know is when you need them they are there. I think 10 to 12 dollars a year is not bad. The major problem comes from the loss of state monies coming to the area. I get what everyone is saying but people really need to think this through and know the details of what is really happening before they jump on the vote no band wagon. I'm sure there will be ample time for everyone to talk to an officer or to attend a Trustees meeting to discuss this. Austintown is a great community to live in and we need to keep it that way.

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52muchtax(303 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I know of a mid forties AUSTINTOWN fireman just looking into retiring and starting his 3 years of doubling dipping. Get paid while 3 yrs worth of retirement goes into a special fund. Essentially legally ripping off the taxpayers for 3 yrs. This crap has been happening for yrs and its kept secret! And they want more money. And after 3 yrs of double dipping still retire in your early fifties. Go ahead and vote yes they laugh all the way to the bank!

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6CompMan(125 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Lee - good one: "Starve the Beast" should be the chant for all new levys across the Mahoning Valley. My house hold budget always balances.

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7atownfan(7 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

There is no such thing as a special fund. Once again, you should have correct information before you post. What is your source? Be fair, there are no raises for the next three years. This isn't about wages, it's about maintaining current levels of service on a levy that was put on in 1976. Times have changed and so have expenses. It is a replacement levy not a new levy.

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8commoncitizen(959 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

ATOWN, This is a REPLACEMENT levy at a HIGHER rate.
NO new levies or taxes!!!
No bs, that 's ALL BS!! Where did the mess come from? As you liberals like to say "from the previous administration" only we don't hear it when it did come from the previous administration.

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9UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

atownfan is full of sh!t and BS up to his eyeballs. He knows that you can retire as a public safety worker, and then work for 7 more years with your pension going into a special retirement fund. Just ask the last Youngstown police chief how he walked away with a lump sum half million dollars.

Vote NO on the levy and send the right message.

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10L0L(640 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I love how its always "lets bash the public workers" chant. How much do the private industry get? Social security plus a 401k match I'm sure pays just as well but lets not look at the private workers.

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11atownfan(7 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Union Forever, that is true for workers under the Drop program. Austintown Police and Fire are not under the same retirement and are not eligible for the drop program. Research is vital. do some!

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