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MUNROE FALLS -- For the second time, voters went to the polls to decide whether the city's income tax should be increased and if a police levy was needed.
This time, both issues were successful in gaining the city's voters' approval.
According to final but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections, Issue 4 received 566 votes (62.40 percent) for and 341 votes (37.60 percent) against. Issue 5 had almost identical numbers, with 576 votes (63.58 percent) in favor and 330 votes (36.42 percent) against.
Issue 4 will increase the city's local income tax rate from 2 percent to 2.25 percent. City officials estimate it will raise about $276,000 annually in additional revenue. Because of the city's 100 percent income tax credit, Munroe Falls residents paying a local tax of 2.25 percent or more to another community that they work in would not see a tax increase while those paying a rate of less than 2 percent to another community would pay the difference between the two tax rates.
Issue 5 is a five-year police levy to pay for such police-related expenses as salaries, vehicle and equipment purchases and maintenance and building maintenance costs. City officials say it is projected to raise about $300,000 annually and would cost homeowners a little under $100 annually per $100,000 in market value.
"It is with great relief that Issues 4 and 5 passed by what looks like comfortable margins," Mayor James Armstrong told the Stow Sentry. " I always believed that if the citizens of Munroe Falls knew the critical financial situation of the city they would support their community and they did.
" I wish to thank the numerous people that help inform their neighbors about the levies and I am appreciative of the Auditor of the State of Ohio who provided an unbiased assessment of the city's financial outlook in their 2015 Financial Health Indicators Report. The passage of these levies will allow the police and other city departments to continue providing the necessary city services to our residents," he added.
Voters rejected both issues on the general election ballot in November. They approved a 2-mill, 10-year capital improvements levy, projected to raise about $214,000 annually specifically for road maintenance.
City officials have said that the police levy and the income tax increase are both needed to relieve pressure on the city's general fund, which has been running deficits in recent years. The fund's cash reserves were nearly $2 million at the end of 2014, were down to about $1.36 million at the end of 2016 and are projected to be about $1.03 million at the end of this year.