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Twinsburg Township -- Trustees are considering three options for a new road and bridge levy for the fall ballot, an additional tax for township homeowners and the first outside millage that would support the service department.
Trustees certified three options for the Nov. 8 ballot at a July 26 special meeting -- a 1.32-mill continuing levy, a 2.76-mill continuing levy or a 4.21-mill continuing levy -- that would either reduce or eliminate completely an expected $600,000 subsidy from the general fund for the $700,000 per year service department.
The department is currently supported by an inside, 0.8-mill levy that generates about $109,000 per year, according to township manager Rob Kagler.
"Under the current environment, there is an increasing gap with the service department at an average of $600,000 per year," Kagler said July 26. "This is a new levy that would reduce or eliminate the transfer to support the service department."
Trustees say they will need to choose one of the options by the Aug. 3 regular Township Trustee meeting to meet an Aug. 10 deadline set by the Summit County Board of Elections.
"Our service department does a fantastic job," said Trustee Jamey DeFabio. "We're rolling as a community and we want to make sure the service department keeps rolling as well."
According to Kagler, the 1.32-mill option would generate $183,708 per year; reduce the service department subsidy from $600,000 to about $400,000 per year; and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $46.20 per year.
A 2.76-mill levy would generate $384,117 per year; reduce the service department subsidy to about $200,000 per year; and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $96.60 per year.
A 4.21-mill levy would generate $585,917 per year; effectively eliminate the service department subsidy; and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $147.35 per year.
"We have high, medium and low options," DeFabio said. "Although it would be ideal to cover the entire [$600,000] expense, I'm leaning toward the middle option."
Several trends have contributed to cost overruns for the four full-time and one part-time member service department, which had a budget of about $640,000 in 2015 and is estimated at about $706,000 this year, according to Kagler.
The tangible personal property tax phase-out will cost the township about $30,000 a year (dwindling to zero over the next several years).
Costs are increasing for the annual road program ($175,000 in 2016), part of the service department budget and responsible for crack sealing and resurfacing on township roads.
"This is pricey, and each year it's going up," Kagler said.
In addition, the township is buying more equipment to handle its own road repairs, snow plowing and salting, equipment that will save the township money in the long run as it will not have to contract with the county or outside agency for services.
Personnel cost for the department is fairly fixed, Kagler said, at around $289,000 including salaries and benefits for 2016. No new hires have been made over the last several years.
"Compared to other communities of the same size, we're pretty lean and mean," Kagler said.
Finally, there is "old faithful," Kagler said, referring to the increasing costs for salt and ice removal.
"This has been a really good exercise for us," Trustee Jim Balogh said. "Whichever option is selected will help us provide more and better service moving forward. This is a good step, tightening up our fiscal responsibility in the township."
"There comes a point where you can't do the things you want for your residents because there is not enough money," DeFabio said.
DeFabio added that township residents will not be asked to pass a police operating levy this fall, a discussion that has also been had by township Trustees. Police service, provided by the Summit County Sheriff's Office through a $920,000, 7.25-deputy contract, will require a $175,000 subsidy in 2016, according to 2016 appropriations.
"At this point we can't [add a police levy] anyway because of the Aug. 10 deadline," DeFabio said. "But I think we would sidestep that regardless. To place two levies on at once would be a little overwhelming."