Hartville revises income-tax proposal

Brian Lisik
Suburbanite correspondent

HARTVILLE  Hartville Village Council members have abandoned a proposed 10-year, 0.25-percent income tax increase for road repairs, paving and equipment replacement costs in the service department and introduced an option for a five-year, 0.5-percent income tax for repair and replacement of roads in the village.

Prior to tabling of the 0.25-percent, 10-year plan and the first reading of the replacement ballot language, Nick DiDonato, a resident of the village’s Conerstone development, asked council members to outline the village’s overall plan for road improvements.

“I don’t feel there is a clear-cut plan,” DiDonato said. “I don’t know if the public has a clear picture of what that (proposed income tax) is for. If it is for roads specifically, I would probably vote for it. But I don’t get that communication.”

Councilman Jim Sullivan said the village annually appropriates $100,000 to $150,000 for road repairs, but the three most deteriorated areas – which include the Cornerstone and Danbury Glen developments and the village’s current project area, around Lake Elementary School south of Sunnyside Street and north of Woodland Street, from Prospect Avenue to the Crestmont Avenue and Grand Trunk Avenue area – total approximately $2 million.

“With our current finances, we are able to maintain the village but funding for more road projects is slow to come.” Sullivan said.

He added that Fiscal Officer Scott Varney is looking into additional funding available from revenues collected when the village eliminated its 1 percent income tax credit for residents working outside the village in 2019. The tax credit was restored in November 2020 via a ballot initiative.

If placed on the May 2021 ballot, the proposed 0.5-percent, five-year income tax would generate approximately $900,000 per year, Varney said. The 0.5-percent increase would also be paid by all residents; it would not be subject to the tax credit for residents working outside the village.

Sullivan said that the 0.25-percent, 10-year option was replaced with the thought that more roads could be completed sooner – and over a larger area – with the 0.5-percent, five-year plan. This, Sullivan said, would also allow the village to consider repairs to roads in “a mediocre state” before they become more deteriorated and more costly to fix.

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

Mayor’s 2020 summary

Mayor Cynthia Billings gave her 2020 year-end report, noting accomplishments including the purchase of property and an existing building to be renovated into a new police department facility; HVAC and roof repairs at village hall; the retirement of police K-9 Bill Stanios and the resignation of his handler, Don Worthy, along with the hiring of a new police K9 and handler; and the success of Zoom and Facebook live public meetings balanced by the cancellation of most community events due to COVID-19.

Looking ahead, Billings said key issues facing the village in 2021 include street paving, renovation of the new police facility, and the creation of a comprehensive plan for the village.

In other action, council: 

• Moved the 2020 expenditure of $171,330 from the general fund to the streets capital improvement fund. Green explained that this annual, accumulating fund is earmarked specifically for streets department equipment and not related to road repairs. The 2021 contribution to the fund is expected to be made later this year.

• Authorized the transfer of funds from the general fund and the sewer fund to the Accrued Sick/Vacation Fund for village and waste water treatment facility employees. Varney said this accruing fund allows the village to pay retired village employees their accrued sick and vacation time in a lump sum payment.