Renewal levies for police/fire reviewed

CLAYTON — City council discussed police and fire levies that will be coming up for renewal next year. The first step to get both issues on the ballot involves having Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith to certify the tax base of the properties in the city to determine the amount a 3.5 mil levy would generate.

The certification would provide the city an estimate of what both levies would bring in. The city is considering placing both levies on the ballot as continuous levies instead of 5-year renewal levies.

The levies would not be an increase. The same levies were originally passed in 2008.

“Back in 2008 when we got certification from the county we were estimated to receive $919,000 per year,” said Finance Director Kevin Schweitzer. “Currently this year we are bringing in $785,000, so the housing values have affected what we are bringing in, so it is less but we are still not increasing the millage.”

Mayor Joyce Deitering noted that property values were down as a result of the recent depression and asked Schweitzer when the next full reappraisal is scheduled to take place.

“The county is doing a tri-annual sales update right now, which is not a full-blown appraisal. You are looking at 2020 before the next full-blown re-appraisal takes place when the county will take a look at every property and take pictures and re-evaluate them,” Schweitzer said.

“Since these levies expire at the end of the year we need to take some kind of action on the levies this year,” Deitering said. She asked Schweitzer if he could calculate what the difference would be if the city waited until the county performed a sales appraisal at the end of the year before taking action.

Schweitzer said he had been in contact with the county, which informed him there would be an increase in property values but based on the millage the city would only see a minimal increase in the amount the levies would generate.

“If we wait too long we would be taking a chance of our levies lapsing and it would be detrimental to the fire and police. We need these levies to operate our departments,” Schweitzer stated.

“In order to maintain our level of services and to continue with the status quo and not have a big increase on the residents, you are recommending retaining the same millage?” Deitering asked, which Schweitzer acknowledged was correct.

“Is there any difference between what we currently have and what you are proposing?” she asked.

“As far 3.5 mils, that is what we are certifying to the auditor right now,”” Schweitzer stated.

Deitering clarified her question by asking, ‘as far as the levy?”

“With the levy, when we get to that point, we can look at just doing a 5-year renewal, or we can do a continuous levy,” Schweitzer said. “We have already lost money on this. We would be stuck at the new rate, whatever the county comes up with when they give us the certification. If we go with a continuous levy we wouldn’t have to ask the residents every five years to look at this and renew it. That way, it is a constant revenue stream. We would know it is there, but for both departments it does not cover all of the expenses of either department.”

If the city opts to place the levies on the ballot as 5-year renewals the city could seek an increase. Schweitzer said that in 2020, based on property values, the city could opt to seek a replacement levy instead of a renewal with the same 3.5 mil rate, which would capture any increase in property values.

Councilman Ken Henning felt having no property tax increase was important

“We were just ranked the 47th safest city in Ohio out of more than 900 municipalities. If we want to continue to have that level of service for our residents we want to maintain great fire/EMS services and police services,” Henning said.

Deitering said that it is important to look at where Clayton ranks in Montgomery County, noting the city was No. 2 overall.

“There is no possible means that the city of Clayton could support public safety without the police and fire levies. There is just no means that we could,” said City Manager Rick Rose. “If we go with a continuous levy and we lock in the current rate, even if it is low right now, it is good for our citizens and good for us.”

Schweitzer pointed out that all the resolution before council would do is ask the county to certify current tax valuation of the city and the dollar amount of revenue that would be generated by a 3.50 mil renewal levy for a continuous period.

Council approved both resolutions.

By Ron Nunnari

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Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind