Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
St. Henry residents strongly oppose levy
By Shelley Grieshop
ST. HENRY - Voters on Tuesday crushed a proposed income tax levy by a larger margin than a similar levy that failed in November.
The 0.5 percent levy to fund operating expenses and special projects was struck down by 61 percent of residents with 364 votes against and 234 votes in favor. Last fall's levy attempt was defeated by 55 percent.
"We're obviously disappointed," village administrator Ron Gelhaus said this morning. "We purposely changed several things on the ballot that we thought were major issues to voters. Apparently they weren't."
The levy on Tuesday's ballot would have remained in place for 15 years and provided 100 percent credit to residents working outside the village corporation limit. Last fall's proposed levy would have been permanent and only gave tax forgiveness to out-of-town workers after the first five years.
The levy defeated Tuesday would have raised the village's total income tax to 1.5 percent and collected approximately $356,000 annually. A resident with an annual income of $50,000 would have paid an additional $250 per year.
Village officials sought the additional funds to replace ongoing dollar losses from the phase-out of tangible personal property tax and inheritance tax, and the loss of local government funding. Officials estimate funds will decrease $492,500 in the next five years.
The levy also was proposed to pay for various projects such as a new village swimming pool and water tower, storm management and an additional full-time police officer. Some of the projects, such as wastewater and storm water management, could be mandated in the future by Ohio EPA, officials have said.
Gelhaus said projects now will be completed when the village can afford them.
"For the larger projects, we'll have to look for funding," he said. "We'll do what we can, what we have to, to get the job done."
Council members spent many months last year sifting through designs, discussing funding and tapping residents for ideas for a proposed new swimming pool that was estimated to cost up to $1.9 million. That venture is now "in limbo," Gelhaus said.