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Peninsula voters may see income tax increase on ballot

5/17/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Pam Lifke

Peninsula Village voters may see another request for an income tax increase on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

During the May 14 Peninsula Village Council meeting, Council had the first reading of two ordinances that would allow the village to put a 2 percent income tax issue on the ballot.

A 2 percent income tax would be a 1 percent increase over the current income tax, according to village officials. A similar issue was defeated by voters in 2011.

At an earlier meeting, Peninsula Mayor Doug Mayer said the village is investigating the possibility of eliminating the village police and street levies if the 2 percent income tax were approved by residents. If the income tax increase is approved, Mayer earlier estimated an additional $90,000 would go to the General Fund after offsetting the street and police levies. Approval of the 2 percent income tax also would allow the village to “host” Joint Economic Development Districts (JEDD), such as the economic activity district being considered by Boston Township, Mayer said earlier. Hosting a JEDD makes the village eligible for a portion of taxes the JEDD collects.

Council also is investigating the feasibility of charging a fee for parking in the village’s 50 on-street parking spaces. Councilwoman Dee Holody introduced discussion of installing a multi-space pay station. Holody said she would not be in favor of parking meters on village streets, but thought the use of a centrally located parking pay-station kiosk would allow the village to gain revenue from visitors. An electronic pay station is capable of accepting coins, bills and credit or debit cards. Users would key in their license plate numbers as they paid. A village employee could print a report of vehicles whose drivers have paid to park and identify vehicles that should be ticketed. Holody said the pay station could be programmed to allow village residents to park for free by using a passcode or to allow free parking for churchgoers.

Holody said a representative of Digital Payment Technologies estimated revenue for the village of up to $54,000 per year. Start-up costs would be about $17,000, and the annual maintenance and upkeep was estimated at about $3,000 a year after the first year, Holody said.

Council will discuss the issue further at its June meeting.

In other business:

• Council accepted the resignation of Police Officer John Petrovich, who took a position with the Richfield Village Police Department. With Petrovich’s resignation, the village is left with two full-time officers and no police chief, said Mayer. After some discussion, Mayer and Council members agreed to advertise for a police chief. The village is using part-time officers to cover shifts until a full-time replacement is hired.

If the candidate chosen for that job is one of the two full-time officers, the village then would seek to hire another full-time officer. If the candidate chosen for the police chief position is from outside the department, no other action would be needed, Mayer said.

The village cleared the way to hire a permanent police chief in February by settling a lawsuit brought by former Peninsula Police Chief Kevin McCue following his dismissal in 2009. The village is expected to pay McCue $120,000 and fund his pension through June 1, 2014, according to the settlement.

Village Police Sgt. Daniel Renz has served as acting chief since McCue was dismissed.

Council President Doug Anderson reported the Ohio Police Chiefs Association could help with qualifying candidates for the job. Council has been seeking a lower cost option to hiring a professional testing firm. Anderson, Brian Schall and Dan Schneider will serve on the committee to choose a new police chief.

• Mayer said he has fielded several questions about painting the decorative metal guardrails on the state Route 303 bridge in the village.

Council said the rails have not been painted since 1985. Mayer said he has received an estimate of $16,000 to $18,000 to repair, sandblast and paint the guardrails.

Council asked Fiscal Officer John Stiegel to go through the budget to see how much money could be found for the project.

Council also discussed applying for a grant from the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for the project.

• Mayer noted he has not received a monthly report from the village zoning official. He told Council he is waiting for the city of Stow Building Department to review the village zoning regulations before discussing turning over zoning inspection duties to them.

• Council also had its joint meeting with the Boston Township trustees to approve funding for the Union Cemetery Association, which is charged with the upkeep of Cedar Grove and Boston cemeteries. Both groups approved continuation of the current funding. Boston Trustee Randy Bergdorf, a member of the Union Cemetery Association Board of Trustees, thanked the village for increased attention to the cemeteries by the police department. The Boston Cemetery suffered significant vandalism this spring, he said. Bergdorf also told Council the cemetery association is seeking quotes to raise the Boston Cemetery fence that runs alongside the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. A higher fence would further deter trespassers, Bergdorf said.

Council’s next regular meeting will be June 11 at 7 p.m. in the second-floor Council room of Peninsula Town Hall, at the corner of state Route 303 and Akron-Peninsula Road.

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