By jeanne starmack
The township needs money from taxpayers if roads are going to be paved, trustees told the public at a meeting Monday evening.
Voters will be asked in November to pass a 1.25-mill, five-year levy for roads, which are in bad shape, they said. A person with a $100,000 home would pay $43.75 per year.
The township would use $266,320 the levy would generate annually to match state grants. Those grants can’t be obtained without local money, said trustees and township Administrator Pat Ungaro. The money would be used strictly for roads — mostly paving, though some patching could be done, they said.
The township needs the money despite cuts it has made in personnel and the elimination of its emergency dispatch because a lot of state funding is being cut, they said.
“If the levy doesn’t pass, I don’t think we could pave another road in the next 10 years,” Ungaro said.
Ungaro said the state makes available $8 million in grants every year, but there’s a lot of competition for the money. He said the levy will generate enough money to give the township clout in obtaining much more funding.
Trustee Jodi Stoyak, who headed the presentation, said roads are now being patched but the patching material doesn’t last long.
The township was able to finish its Shady Road/Murray Hill paving project, but that was accomplished with $150,000 in grants and $70,000 the township matched with a workers’ compensation reimbursement, Ungaro explained.
Stoyak said current funding for roads comes from the township’s share of state motor vehicle license tax, the gasoline tax and the road and bridge fund. From 2010 to 2012, cuts in that funding totaled $57,853, she noted.
The township is also losing an average of $250,000 in inheritance-tax funding beginning in 2014, she said. Other state cuts include a $125,000 average annual loss in local government funds and the elimination of the personal property tax.
“Financially, the township is in very good shape now,” Trustee Stan Nudell said. “The board reduced expenses by $500,000 a year,” he noted. “Still, it’s not helping out with roads. We get constant complaints,” he continued.
Nudell also said that when the township closed its dispatch center and began using Trumbull County’s 9-1-1 system, township residents saw a return of 1.25 mills in their taxes.
Resident Jeff Grinstein said, however, that at 80 mills, Liberty’s taxes are already some of the highest of surrounding communities.
“Our taxes are higher because that’s what people wanted,” Nudell said, referring to voters having passed police and fire levies. “We have the services,” he added.
Resident Lou Pizzuto said he believes road users, not property owners, should be asked to pay for paving roads.
He said the gas tax should be raised so trucks using the roads could absorb the costs.
“Our legislators are the only ones who could change the tax rates, and they won’t because people like us aren’t building a fire under them,” he said.
Trustees noted it costs $100,000 to pave one mile of road, and the township has 60 miles of roads. The 20 to 25 roads that need to be paved would be done over a period of years, they said, with four to five roads being done during the course of a year.
They said the Trumbull County Engineer’s office would help determine which roads need to be paved first.