42 public entities in Valley seek local taxes as state aid dries up

There is no shortage of communities, school districts and other government entities in Mahoning and Trumbull counties seeking tax levies on the November ballot.

Wednesday was the filing deadline to get a tax issue in front of voters Nov. 6.

There are 42 requests for money from entities in the two counties with 17 in Mahoning County and 25 in Trumbull County.

Plenty of local officials say they need the money because of cuts made to communities by Gov. John Kasich and the Republican-controlled General Assembly to prop up the state’s rainy-day fund.

The rainy-day fund is at nearly $2.7 billion yet communities say it’s pouring outside as state money has virtually dried up.

In order to make up that lost money, local officials say they have no choice but to ask their residents to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for services such as streets and bridges, police and fire services or just for operating expenses.

Kasich’s response has been to tell local governments tough luck, you’re exaggerating your problems, and tighten your belt.

Meanwhile, the state continues to fatten its rainy-day fund primarily to stroke Kasich’s ego that he’s taken it from 89 cents when he took office in January 2011 to nearly $2.7 billion.

Ohio officials added about $657 million to the fund last month.

Instead, they could have given it to local governments to offset some of the money taken from them during Kasich’s gubernatorial terms.

Oh, well, that’s not going to happen.

Let’s look at some of the big-ticket tax issues that will be on the November ballot.

At the top of the list is a 1.85-mill, 5-year renewal for Mahoning County Children Services to raise $7,616,189 annually.

Next is a request from the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board for a 1.35-mill levy for five years. That’s a combined 0.85-mill renewal and a 0.5-mill increase to raise $5,429,527 a year.

Austintown Township is back with its 3.2-mill levy for police to raise $1,990,583 annually. It’s a combined 2.4-mill replacement and a 0.8-mill increase.

The exact same levy was on the May 8 primary ballot, losing by 14 votes: 3,006 to 2,992.

Township Trustees Jim Davis and Kenneth Carano have repeatedly said Austintown’s need for the money was caused by state government funding cuts.

In Mahoning County, there are four school issues that voters will consider in November.

Three of them are renewals:

Boardman is seeking a 2.4-mill, 10-year levy to raise $1,999,547 annually.

Poland wants to pass a 2.65-mill, 5-year levy to raise $1,068,055 annually.

South Range is looking to get approval on an 8.8-mill, 10-year levy to raise $1,781,555.

There’s also a 0.5-percent, 5-year additional income tax proposal for the West Branch school district to raise about $850,000 annually. It had the option to put a 3.34-mill levy on the ballot instead, but went with the income tax.

New school income tax proposals have typically struggled to get approved by voters, so we’ll see what happens here.

In Trumbull County, the Niles school district is again seeking a tax levy from its residents.

Voters rejected a 9.25-mill levy to generate $2 million annually in November 2017 and another one this past May for 5.85 mills to raise $1.3 million.

The district in November is seeking an 11.7-mill levy to raise $2.6 million annually.

It’s, by far, the largest levy on the ballot in Trumbull County in November.

The Lakeview and Liberty school districts are seeking approval for renewal levies.

Lakeview’s request is for a 3.2-mill levy to raise $890,000 a year while Liberty wants a 3.7-mill levy to raise $839,531 annually.

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