North Canton residents said yes on two levies — one for roads and the second for ambulance services — giving city officials some breathing room as they try to sort through the 2011 budget.
Residents have given city officials some breathing room — albeit temporary — when it comes to balancing the city’s finances.
By overwhelming majorities, voters Tuesday approved a new 1.5-mill levy to help pay for emergency medical services and a 1-mill levy to pay for paving streets.
The levies, when combined, will bring about $962,000 to the city’s general fund in each of the next two years. The additional money is set for specific use, but having it means revenue can be allocated into other accounts.
“This has brought stability,” Mayor David J. Held said about passage of the levies.
The city has anticipated a deficit of $800,000 to $1.2 million in 2011. Money from the levies will help to fill the gap.
Council President Daryl Revoldt said it’s important to remember that the EMS levy — it brings in $565,000 per year — is only for two years. It’s temporary, he said, but will help the city maintain ambulance services while officials continue efforts to cuts costs.
“That remains the plan,” Revoldt said.
Held noted that city officials have worked several years to reduce the work force and control costs. “We are constantly looking for ways to be more cost effective. We have to,” Held said.
North Canton still is trying to cope with the closing of Hoover Co. Income taxes from Hoover employees once fed the city’s general fund. But income tax collections have slipped since 2000 as Hoover cut jobs before finally closing in 2007.
City officials hope that redevelopment of the Hoover property will bring more jobs and income tax revenue.
Revoldt said the city needs between 1,600 and 2,000 jobs to help fill the gap created by Hoover’s demise. So far there are about 550 people working for several businesses at the Hoover site.
City officials had been working on contingency plans in case the two levies failed.
“We’re not out of the woods, yet,” Finance Director Alex Zumbar said of the city’s efforts to get the 2011 budget in line. But he called passage of the levies “a very positive step for the city.”
Full-time and volunteer firefighters campaigned for the EMS levy, Chief John Bacon said. It helped that council members supported the proposal, he said.