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MACEDONIA Crumbling roads may soon be a thing of the past in the city. By a more than 2 to 1 margin, city voters decided roads and the recreation center deserved taxpayers' support.
Mayor Joe Migliorini said he is very happy the issue passed.
"The people saw there was a need and they weren't going to be affected by this proposal," he said referring to the refund for up to 0.25 percent for residents who work in Macedonia.
Migliorini said the first thing he will do is have City Engineer Joe Gigliotti prepare the specifications for approximately $12 million in road work. The mayor has stated he will use the incoming tax funds earmarked for roads by getting bonds to complete work as soon as possible.
"We will get those started as soon as we possibly can," he said.
Just a few of the roads planned to be repaired include portions of Valley View Road, Ledge Road from Peppers Market to Sheffield Steel, Macedonia Commons Boulevard, North Bedford Road from northern corporation line to Ledge Road, Shepard Road from Route 82 to Highland Road, Eileen Drive, Gloria Drive, Sioux Lane and more.
In addition to the road work, Migliorini said without money to subsidize the operation of the Macedonia Family Recreation Center, the facility would have been forced to close within 18 months when its fund runs dry.
The facility's operation had been subsidized each year with $350,000 to $400,000 from the expiring 0.25 percent income tax, which had also financed the building's construction.
According to final but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections, Issue 3 received 2,115 votes (69.53 percent) for and 927 votes (30.47 percent) against the 0.5 percent income tax increase. The revenue will be used for general improvements, capital improvements, maintenance, current operating expenses, road improvements, and the city parks and recreation center.
The measure will bring the city an estimated $2 million per year, according to city estimates, and would make up for a 20-year-old tax that is set to expire next month.
The city's tax rate is presently 2 percent, but a 0.25 percent income tax approved 20 years ago to pay for the recreation center and city operations is expiring in June. Issue 3 sets the tax rate at 2.25 percent, but residents would continue to pay Macedonia 2 percent. Non-residents who work in the city would pay the full 2.25 percent rate.
As it stands now, those who qualify for a refund will have to fill out tax form for the city, according a Regional Income Tax Agency spokesperson.
"RITA's role in this process will be only to confirm filings and payments," said RITA spokesperson Amy Arrighi. "The city's finance department will handle the processing of resident applications for refunds and will have an application available on the city's website."
Macedonia Finance Director Rhonda Hall said she is hoping to get some guidance from RITA on preparing the form, but residents who qualify will have to fill out the form when filing taxes for 2017.
Who will qualify for the refund? Residents who work in a 2 percent or less withholding community and receive the 100 percent tax credit available to residents would be eligible for a 0.25 percent refund available through the city of Macedonia since one would be paying more to the city through quarterly payments or tax return.
The city has stated in informational literature about the measure "All financial documents will be shredded upon cashing of said refund." However, with the city finances now being on Ohiocheckbook.com, any checks the city cuts will be a public record and visible on the state website. Hall said this was an unavoidable side effect of transparency.
"That's the only downfall with Ohio Checkbook is that I cannot black out anybody's name," she said. "We talked to the law director about but it can't be done."
Migliorini said during the town hall meeting he is hoping to work with RITA to find a seamless way of handling the refund more as a credit so the information would not be made public record.
"We are on the cutting edge with this (tax) request," he said. "RITA has never implemented a program like this so everybody is watching Macedonia right now because if this passes I can assure that more cities are going to go after it the same way."
Some opposed increase
The measure met opposition from its inception when Councilors David Engle and Sylvia Hanneken voted 'no' to placing it on the May 2 ballot in January. Hanneken maintained the city could operate at 2 percent and said she felt the tax increase was 'unjustified.' However, with the drop of the 0.25 percent of the recreation levy in July, the city's tax income would have dropped to 1.75 percent. August would have been the city's next chance to go to the ballot with a 2 percent proposal.
Macedonia resident Shirley Koth said during the April 27 town hall meeting since the 0.25 percent tax that was falling off in July was earmarked for the rec center, the city was already running on 1.75 percent and didn't feel 2.25 percent was needed.
"I just can't see where that's necessary, we are already running on 1.75," Koth said, agreeing the roads need to be fixed. "I'm not saying it doesn't need to at least stay at 2, but there is no way to do that with this election."
She said she felt the majority of council and the mayor were misleading voters by saying services that were already funded by the 1.75 percent would be cut. Migliorini said the city was running "very tight" and income tax had dropped along with local government funds. Councilor Kevin Bilkie added there was no money to fix the roads, and in order to fund road work other services would be cut.
The News Leader was hard pressed to find voters who were against the measure among the those at the polls May 2.
As she was heading in to cast her ballot, Faith DiPippo said she was in favor of the issue.
"We have needed it for a while," she said. "If we don't, who will want to live in our city? We have to keep up our community."
Another voter, John Walsh, said he voted for the measure because he too felt the tax was "overdue and a good way to address it."
Poll workers from all precincts in the city said they were surprised to have seen as many voters as they did for only having one issue on the ballot.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432