ENON – Voters in the Village of Enon can expect to see a ballot proposal this spring to approve an additional 5-mill property tax as village officials attempt to generate more funds to operate the Enon Police Department.
In a 4-1 vote during the Jan. 24 village council meeting, council approved a resolution to proceed with placing the tax request on the May 2 primary election ballot. If approved, the five-year levy would commence in 2017 and generate an estimated $238,629 annually.
According to Enon Mayor Tim Howard, the additional tax would cost the owner of a home with a tax value of $100,000 approximately an additional $175 per year or $14.58 per month. The tax value in the county is based on 35 percent of the total market value of the property.
Council members took the first step placing the levy on the May ballot during the Jan. 10 village council meeting by approving an Emergency Resolution of Necessity which was submitted to the Clark County Auditor’s office. The auditor’s office calculated the estimated property tax revenue the levy would generate if approved and certified the resolution council adopted on Jan. 10.
Local voters rejected a proposed additional 5-mill police levy during the November general election. Village council members initially projected that the village would need to ask for not less than a 4.5-mill levy. However, a 5-year financial plan submitted in 2016 by Larry Weeks, a certified public accountant at Clark, Schaefer and Hackett CPAs and Business Consultants in Springfield, confirmed to council that a 5-mill levy would be necessary to operate the police department sufficiently in the future.
Approval of the levy would also provide the needed funding to hire two full-time police officers and pay for increased benefits, as well as help limit withdrawals from the general fund.
Howard pointed out those state-shared funds local governments received in the past are gone, leaving the village coping with considerably less funds to operate. Last year, the village police department received $436,700 in appropriated funding. However, council members had to dip into the village general fund from time to time to help support the operations of the police department.
“Nobody is pleased with the fact we have to ask village residents for more money, but this is the reality village officials are currently facing. Revenues are down, yet annual expenditures are rising. Therefore, we have to ask for additional monies to continue the quality of service we want to provide to this community,” Howard said.
Enon resident Ned Clark, who said he paid a visit to the county auditor’s office, also pointed out that since the State of Ohio eliminated the estate tax in 2013, the village has lost thousands of dollars.
“These lost monies could have helped paid for some of the expenses that accrued in the police department over the last four years,” said Clark.
Enon Police Chief Lewis Wilcox said he believed that the voters’ decision in November reflected an issue with money, not an issue with quality service. Enon resident Jim Matthews said he concurred with the police chief’s statement and told Howard and council members that the proposed tax rate was too high. He suggested placing a 1.5-mill or 2-mill tax levy on the ballot this year that would be more affordable, especially for a growing aged population on a fixed income that resides in certain areas of the village.
“I understand that the village needs additional funds, but 5 mills are too much. The increase in Social Security payments last year didn’t even cover the increase cost of medical insurance,” Matthews said. “You say that the village is going to need more money to operate in the years ahead, but let 2020 take care of itself. Let’s just take care of today.”
Matthews also took issue with the fact that the village would have the proposed measure on the ballot at the same time the Greenon Local School District would have its proposed tax levy on the ballot and asked council members to consider placing the police levy on the November ballot instead.
“I would hate to see the two ballot issues cancel out each other,” Matthews said. “However, when you consider the amount of money both the school district and the village will be asking for in May, you have to step back and ask yourself if you can afford to pay this much more in property taxes for five years.”
Village voters previously approved the renewal of a five-year, 2.5-mill police levy in November 2015 that currently generates approximately $113,000 annually.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.