Reynoldsburg News

Township will try again for operating levy

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Truro Township trustees hope a second attempt to pass a 0.75-mill operating levy for general fund expenses will prove more palatable to voters in the May 6 primary election.

Trustees Michael Shirey, Pat Mahaffey and Barbara Strussion voted 2-1 at a special meeting Jan. 21 to proceed with putting a five-year, 0.75-mill operating levy on the ballot. Shirey cast the "no" vote.

"I know we have made a lot of cuts and I can see that we won't get what we need without the levy, but I think we could take a cut in our salaries if we have to proceed with this levy," he said.

"It may be the only cut we have left. I feel so strongly about this that I won't vote for the levy unless we vote for a pay cut."

Shirey said while he was running for a seat on the board of trustees in November, he heard a lot of negative comments from voters about the levy that was on the ballot then.

That levy -- also for 0.75 mills -- was rejected, with 2,449 votes, or 63.54 percent, cast against it and 1,405 votes, or 36.46 percent, in favor.

Strussion said she did not hear negative remarks from voters about the levy during her campaign for re-election, but she would not be opposed to a pay cut.

Mahaffey said trustees would have to consider that issue at another time.

Trustees are paid $20,568 per year, which is determined by the Ohio Revised Code, based on a township's budget, according to Truro Township Administrator Jason Nicodemus.

If approved by voters, the 0.75-mill levy would cost homeowners an additional $26.25 per year in taxes for each $100,000 in property value, Nicodemus said. It would generate about $348,000 per year.

A 3.9-mill Truro Township fire levy approved in November 2012 costs homeowners an additional $119 per year in taxes for each $100,000 in property value.

By law, Nicodemus said, funds from the fire levy cannot be transferred to general fund operating expenses, however.

"Our general fund is completely opposite from our road, cemetery or fire funds," he said. "Any carryover in those funds cannot be transferred to the general fund. But we can transfer funds from the general fund to those accounts, if needed."

He said Truro Township's expenses have exceeded revenue since 2011, when revenue came in at $246,000 while expenses were $285,000. In 2012, revenue was only $145,000, with expenses at $300,000 and in 2013, revenue was $137,000 and expenses reached $282,000.

A carryover fund balance kept the township from operating at a deficit, but that fund will soon be depleted if the 0.75-mill levy does not pass in May, Nicodemus said.

At the end of 2013, the carryover balance in the general fund was $191,000.

Prior to the request in November 2013, the township had never asked voters to approve a levy for operating expenses, said Strussion, who has been a trustee for 16 years.

"We have a lot of mandated expenses and I think we need this levy to pass to keep the township running," she said.

She said she hopes to arrange some kind of forum or town meeting before the May primary to let the community know more about township needs.

Nicodemus said township revenue has decreased significantly over the past few years because of state budget cuts, resulting in losses of at least $100,000 a year.

He said most of the expenses in the township budget are legislatively required expenditures.

Some supplies have been cut, equipment has not been replaced and training opportunities have been limited, he said. Township trustees are also looking into opportunities to share expenses with surrounding townships.

Truro Township provides fire, paramedic and other municipal services to 38,000 residents living in Truro Township, the village of Brice and the city of Reynoldsburg.

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