Austintown police Chief Robert Gavalier is hoping voters will help him maintain the level of service his department is giving to Austintown residents. On March 6, voters will be deciding on a 2-mill replacement levy that will help Gavalier and his department continue to serve while helping in other ways, including a possible road paving program this year.
The levy will be replacing a 1.6-mill levy that was originally passed in 1976. It has continued to be renewed, but this year, township officials decided to go for a replacement levy to help the [police department stand on its own while freeing up general fund money.
"We are not threatening to lay off or reduce staff," Gavalier said. "The department has been running using $600,000 of general fund money last year. If the levy passes, we will be out of the use of general funds."
He said Austintown, like other townships, has taken severe hits from reductions in state funds and the elimination of tangIble property taxes. Trustees have maintained the level of police services, but at a cost to other programs such as road paving. Last year, Gavalier said no township roads were paved.
The 2-mill levy is not a new levy, but will replace the 1.6-mill levy that was collecting at .5 mills. Gavalier said when a levy is passed, the millage is set to collect a specific amount. The 1.6-mill levy collected $380,000 a year since 1976. It presently collects at .5 mills because more homes and businesses were built since that year and thus the amount residents were paying was divided among more residents and businesses.
The replacement levy, according to Gavalier, will be an actual .4-mill increase over the 1976 levy, but will bring in an additional $794,000 for operating his department. He said the cost to township residents will be $48 per year on a $100,000 home or $36 a year on a $75,000 home.
Trustee Jim Davis said, "This levy will fund our officers. They have taken a zero across the board increase in wages over three years. We are just trying to maintain the level of service we now have."
Gavalier said with the replacement levy, the township can free up the general fund money to use in other departments and for a road repaving program.
The replacement levy will be the only Austintown item on the March 6 ballot. The rest will be county, state, and federal candidates and issues.