Hartville Council considers income tax increase for road repairs

Brian Lisik
Suburbanite correspondent

HARTVILLE  Village Council had its first reading Jan. 5 of legislation to place a 10-year, 0.25-percent income tax increase for road repairs, paving and equipment replacement costs in the service department on the May 4 ballot.

Hartville Village Hall

Mayor Cynthia Billings introduced the legislation, stating that village officials have received “constant complaints” from residents about the condition of roads in the village.

“It will be 16-plus years before all the roads in the village can be repaired and we can’t stop all the other work we must do (in order to) do roads, as some have suggested,” Billings said. “I think a small tax increase is the way to go. Something needs done.”

The income tax would increase the village’s income tax rate from 1 percent to 1.25 percent and would generate an estimated $450,000 annually. Billings said the plan would also complete paving citywide within five to seven years.

Councilman Jim Sullivan confirmed that the village’s tax credit for residents who work outside the village would not be subject to the one-quarter percent tax increase. Sullivan instead proposed a five year, half-percent income tax increase to generate an estimated $630,000 annually and “get the roads done quicker.”

Councilman Jeff Kozy added that he would support Sullivan’s proposal if the increased revenues could be earmarked specifically for paving.

Councilwoman Kelly Reis said the issue is “less about five years or 10 years” as it is about convincing voters of the need. Billings also reminded council members that voters have defeated a number of road-repair related levy requests in recent years.

Councilwoman Bev Green, who voted no on the first reading of the legislation, said village officials have sent residents a mixed message by stating that Hartville is fiscally sound “but now saying we don’t have” money for road repairs.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Williams replied, “I take (those statements) to mean we have enough to survive, but it we want to improve (the roads) we need more money.”

Kozy noted that recent estimates for the village’s portion of repair to a half-mile stretch of Lake Avenue were $300,000 alone.

“And that was with a discount,” Kozy said.

The tax proposal was placed on the next finance committee meeting agenda for further discussion.

The deadline for placing the issue on the May ballot is Feb. 3.

In other action, council:

• Amended the village salary ordinance to formalize an existing $150 per year safety equipment and clothing allowance for full-time service department employees.

• Appointed Councilwoman Kelly Ries as 2021 Council president and mayor pro tempore.