HARTVILLE As the village of Hartville enjoys more visitors, more traffic and more retail, officials are seeking a half-percent increase in residents' income tax, from 1 percent to 1.5 percent.
Hartville has not had an income-tax increase since it was enacted 50 years ago in 1968, said Mayor Cindy Billings.
If passed, 1 percent of the 1.5 percent tax will be dedicated to maintain and increase general operations and municipal services, maintenance of village equipment, and expanding capital improvement projects at village facilities.
The additional half-percent would be divided, with 0.25 percent going to police operations, which includes the construction of a new building. The remaining 0.25 percent would be allocated to the street department, with the goal of resurfacing all of the village's paved roads by 2028.
Residents who work and pay taxes in other communities will continue to receive their current 100-percent tax credit; however they would not receive credit for the additional 0.5 percent.
With the increase, the income tax would generate $791,000 a year for the village of 3,020.
Billings admits she has some concerns Hartville has two levies on the ballot at the same time in addition to a Stark County Library levy.
"It just worked out that way," she said. "But we didn't want to wait another year."
She said she hasn't heard any negative feedback about the income tax request.
"People know it needs to be done," she said. "The roads are bad. People come and complain, but I'm just honest with them."
Billings said that if the income tax levy doesn't pass, there have been some discussions about their options, but she declined to offer details.
"We are paving roads every year, but the Police Department is something that has to be done," she said. "We wouldn't be asking for it otherwise. They know we've been fiscally responsible."
The Hartville Fire Department, which operates separately from the village, also is asking for more money. Voters must decide whether or not to approve an additional, continual 1-mill fire/EMS levy, which would take effect in 2019. Currently, Hartville has a 3-mill levy for fire services and a 2.25-mill levy for emergency medical services.
An additional mill would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $35 a year, and would generate an additional $81,023.
According to an Akron Beacon Journal report, the two levies contributed $338,000 to the Fire Department's $1.4 million annual budget in 2017. Hartville Fire/EMS also receives from a Lake Township fire/ EMS levy. Its 2017 share of that levy was $790,000.
The department also earned $296,000 from non-resident fees in 2017, plus a one-time, $200,000 federal grant.
Village Fire Chief Mike Lorentz said the new levy is needed to maintain the current level of services. The department has seven full-time firefighters in addition to supplemental part-time and volunteers. The department staffs two stations.
"We run a pretty tight ship as it is," he said. "We don't want to have to cut services. We like the staff we have; we'd love to be able to add more someday, but the rising cost of healthcare support as it is, is just tremendous."
Lorentz, who's been chief for two of his 12 years with the department, said he's not concerned about the levy being on the ballot with the income tax proposal.
"I believe we have a great relationship with the community," he said. "The support from voters is always tremendous. We hope we can continue that service they've come to expect."
If approved, the new fire/EMS levy would become effective Jan. 1.