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Macedonia, Northfield Center voters to decide issues Aug. 2

by Eric Marotta | Editor Published: July 26, 2016 12:00 AM
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Editor's note: A Page 1 story published in the July 20 edition should have stated Issue 3 is a continuous levy. The staff regrets the error.

Nordonia Hills -- Residents in Macedonia and Northfield Center on Aug. 2 will decide issues that could have far-reaching implications for their communities.

Issue 1 earmarked for infrastructure

Issue 1, a half-percent income tax rate increase that would fall to a quarter percent after 5 years, would bring the city $3 million per year, according to the city finance department. The ballot issue requires the money to be spend on roads and stormwater projects.

The city's income tax rate is currently 2 percent. If Issue 1 passes, it would raise to 2.5 percent in October. On Dec. 31, 2021, the tax would drop to a 2.25 percent rate.

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About 75 percent of the money Issue 1 would raise would be paid by non-city residents who work in town, according to the city's finance department. However, a majority of city residents would still pay higher taxes.

If Issue 1 is not approved, the city's current income tax ordinance provides for a decrease in the city's income tax rate from 2 percent to 1.75 percent in June 2017. The quarter percent decrease is due to the expiration of a tax voters approved years ago to finance construction of the recreation center.

According to Law Director Mark Guidetti, Issue 1 would reset the tax ordinance, thus eliminating the quarter percent decrease.

Proponents of the issue say the tax is needed to pay for infrastructure improvements the city cannot afford. They cite millions of dollars of road work and stormwater projects that must be completed and say the city does not have enough money to cover the work that needs to be done, despite extra revenue the city is projected to receive next year.

Among the needed improvements are $9 million worth of work on roads a city study rates as being in "poor" and "fair to poor" condition, though Council President Nick Molnar said the total cost of needed improvements adds up to $27 million.

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Mayor Joseph Migliorini said he plans to use proceeds from Issue 1 to pay for $20 million in bonds that would cover the cost of immediate work on roads and stormwater problems.

Opposing the measure is Councilor Sylvia Hanneken, who says the city will have an extra $800,000 per year starting next year due to a drop in debt service payments, plus around $225,000 more per year that could be used for stormwater improvements from the North East Ohio Regional Sewer District.

Issue 3 would resurrect fire department

Issue 3 is a 6-mill replacement and increase of the township's current 2-mill fire levy.

The present levy brings the township about $325,000 per year. Approval of Issue 3 would replace the 2-mill levy with a 6-mill continuous levy that would bring the township around $940,000 per year and would cost $210 per $100,000 of a homeowner's property value.

The issue is earmarked specifically for use by the Northfield Center Township Fire Department, which would be reestablished if the levy is approved by voters.

The Northfield Center Fire Department disbanded in 2010, when the Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District was established. Sagamore Hills Trustees in March announced they would be leaving the fire district, meaning the agency must disband in September.

Proponents of Issue 3 include Trustee Paul Buescher and John Romanik, who say they believe that in the absence of a plan for regionalizing fire service, the township would be better off with its own fire department. They say their plan is to transition the existing fire district members into the new Northfield Center Fire Department, which would maintain four firefighters on station at all times.

If Issue 3 is not approved, the township would have to contract with another community for fire service.

Opponents of Issue 3 say contracting fire service with another community would be more cost-effective than attempting to go it alone again, as Macedonia has offered to staff the Northfield Center Fire Station with two firefighters for $375,000 per year and Northfield Village has offered to do the same for just over $400,000.

Issue 3 opponents note Macedonia would have two firefighters stationed in Sagamore Hills due to the city's contract with Sagamore, so a contract with the city would keep four firefighters on duty in the fire district's service area.

District Fire Chief Frank Risko said he believes the department has served the community well and would provide residents the best option for service, noting that except for the period during which members were serving under the fire district's authority, the department had served the township since 1928.

Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433

emarotta@recordpub.com

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Islandgirl23 Jul 27, 2016 12:32 AM

Your article is very bias.