By LEE MURRAY
Howland Township voters approved a renewal levy for the schools Tuesday. They also approved three replacement levies, authorizing additional taxes for the police and fire departments.
The Howland Local Schools levy, which provides 8.1 mills for 10 years, will generate $5,050,000 annually. It combines and replaces two previously renewed five-year levies and will not cost taxpayers any more than when the separate levies were in effect, officials said.
Howland voters said yes to a 0.75-mill police replacement levy, which replaces two 0.5-mill levies, and yes to a 1-mill police replacement levy.
The three levies currently raise $423,507 annually. The two replacements will raise $711,428 annually, said Darlene St. George, Howland Township administrator.
Howland maintains 21 police officers and has a departmental budget of $1,735,957.
Voters also approved a 1.75-mill replacement of two fire levies, each 1 mill, that will raise $711,428 annually, St. George said. The old levies raised $337,953 annually. Howland has 26 full-time firefighters on staff and has a budget of $2,088,710.
All three levies are continuing, meaning they have no end date, just like the levies they replace. The total increase in cost to the owner of a $100,000 house for all three replacement levies is $36.75 per year, St. George said.
“We’re really pleased that the residents have voted a vote of confidence in the police and fire departments” said St. George. “It will allow them to provide a level of service that our residents have come to expect.”
The funds will allow the departments to maintain staffing levels, provide training, and maintain and purchase the equipment they need, St. George said.
Howland township Treasurer Robert Costello told The Vindicator last month that the additional loss of revenue from inheritance tax could cost the township around $80,000.
Meanwhile, the Warren Township Police Department will be getting much needed relief in the form of an additional $279,804 annually for an indefinite period.
According to incomplete results, the township’s 4-mill additional levy passed by about 46 percent to 54 percent.
“We want to thank all the residents,” said Warren Township Trustee Kay Anderson. “We appreciate people’s faith in us. It’s a big need; we need money to upgrade our fleet and keep our force 24/7. That’s what our goal is.”
The township has had to reduce its staffing from eight full-time police officers to five in the past couple years.
Lt. Don Bishop, the department’s only management employee, said that a cut in state funding and fewer property taxes have left the department underfunded.
Warren Township has saved more money recently by reducing the number of police cars available to officers and making do with old weapons and equipment. Township officers took a three-year pay freeze early this year in a bid to balance the budget.
The department hired its fifth officer this year after negotiations with the police union, which allowed a contract for new hires that includes a lower starting wage of $15.26 per hour and a five-year wait for top pay of $21.80 instead of the three years it took before.
In Cortland, voters said yes to a 3-mill police levy that replaces a 3-mill levy collected since 1996.
The replacement levy will generate about $405,000 per year, which is about $100,000 more than it generated before.
For the average $100,000 home, the additional cost to the taxpayer will be about $24 per year.
Fran Moyer, Cortland finance director, said the new levy will generate more because it would be upgraded to the current valuation of the city.
Renewal levies do not generate more because of increased valuation in a community, but replacement levies do.