Reynoldsburg News

Truro Township

Levy seen as 'very vital to maintaining services'

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Voter approval of a 0.75-mill operating levy on the May 6 ballot is "very vital to maintaining Truro Township's overall services," according to township Administrator Jason Nicodemus.

If approved by voters, Issue 27 would cost homeowners an additional $26.25 per year in taxes for each $100,000 worth of property valuation. It would generate approximately $348,047 annually for the township.

If the issue passes, the additional property tax would be included on residents' 2014 tax bill, which is collected in 2015, Nicodemus said.

Voters rejected a levy for the same amount in November 2013, with 2,449 votes or 63.54 percent cast against the tax issue and 1,405 votes or 36.46 percent in favor.

Nicodemus said if the levy is approved in May, revenue from it will go into the township's general fund to offset losses of money from state of Ohio subsidies; build a cash reserve that's been depleted; finance technology needs, including website enhancement; and pay for routine expenses, which include utilities and general government expenditures.

He said the township has already eliminated all non-mandatory general fund expenditures and is using cash reserves to balance the budget.

In addition, Nicodemus said, the township has eliminated staff training and put off replacing equipment and maintenance items.

"Pending 2014 actual revenue and expenditures, projections show the township would begin experiencing a general fund budget deficit as early as 2015 to 2016 and would not be able to maintain a balanced budget in 2016 with depleted reserves," he said.

"The estimated general fund budget deficit projects a shortfall of $130,000 in 2016, which continues to rise the year after."

Nicodemus said if there is no money in the budget for the township to adhere to the statutory requirements of the state, the township could be placed in fiscal caution, fiscal watch or fiscal emergency by the Ohio Auditor's Office.

"The general fund services the governance structure, administrative operations and legal management of the township as a whole," he said. "It is utilized to account for all financial resources except those required to be accounted for in restricted funds such as for fire department services.

"General funds can be transferred to restricted funds such as the fire department, but restricted fund amounts cannot be transferred to supplement the general fund, by law," he said.

That means, Nicodemus said, that even though voters approved a 3.9-mill Truro Township fire levy in November 2012, none of those funds may be used to beef up the township's general fund and pay for operating expenses.

The fire levy cost homeowners an additional $119 per year in taxes for each $100,000 in property value and funds the Truro Township Fire Department. It was expected to generate about $1.8 million annually for fire services.

Nicodemus said the state of Ohio has been reducing subsidies to local governments for several years.

"Truro has seen a loss of $100,000 each year of our revenue when comparing both 2011 to 2012 and 2012 to 2013," he said.

"Unlike counties that may levy a property tax and sales tax and cities that can levy a property tax and income tax, townships may levy only one kind of tax: a property tax," Nicodemus said.

He said voters should understand that a homeowner with a home valued at $100,000 would pay $26.25 per year or $2.19 per month or about 51 cents per week if Issue 27 is approved.

"The operating service levy may not provide the actual physical service such as fire and emergency services, snow and ice removal and cemetery maintenance, but it does provide for the governance and administrative operations of the township, which affects all services and the local identity of the township," he said.

Revenue from the tax levy would ensure that current township services remain the same, Nicodemus said.

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