Delaware News

Galena asks voters to replace levy

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Galena residents will decide in May whether to keep village services at status-quo levels for the next four years.

Galena Administrator Jeanna Burrell said the proposed 2-mill replacement levy, if approved, will not raise the tax rate on village residents. Likewise, the funding is not expected to lead to any special projects.

"It's a replacement levy, so nothing new is planned," she said. "It's not a special levy for a specific purpose."

The levy request was approved for the May 6 ballot by Galena Village Council in January. It would replace a 2-mill levy that expired Dec. 31, 2013, on which the village will make its final collection this year.

The levy is expected to generate $37,903 annually if approved. According to the Delaware County Auditor's office, the levy would cost homeowners $70 per $100,000 of property valuation.

The village also currently has a 1 percent income tax.

Burrell said property-tax income represented about 13 percent of the village's general fund income in 2013.

She said village officials have not discussed what potential cuts would need to be made if voters reject the levy.

She said the funding from the property tax, though it represents just a fraction of the overall budget, has been key over the past five years as other revenue streams shrunk or disappeared.

"We, like everybody in the state, lost money when local government funding was cut," Burrell said.

The state has cut the amount of money it sends to local governments by about half -- from about $694 million to about $363 million -- since Gov. John Kasich's administration began. The state also repealed its estate tax in 2013, eliminating another revenue stream for local governments.

The village also saw a decline in income-tax revenue during the aftermath of the recession that ended in 2009. While Burrell said the village has started to see a rebound in income-tax collections in recent years, no relief in the form of increased local government funding is expected from the state.

Even with the cuts, Burrell said she thought officials had been able to continue running the village in an efficient and effective manner.

She said the village has been fiscally responsible with taxpayer funds, seeking grants for large projects instead of asking for tax increases.

"I think we do offer a great deal of services for a pretty small staff and a pretty small village," she said.

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