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New Franklin reviewing police levies

1/16/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Plus, members named to upcoming Charter Review Commission

NEW FRANKLIN — New Franklin officials have placed two matters on their “to do” list for 2014.

At the Jan. 8 New Franklin Council meeting, Mayor Al Bollas asked the Safety and Finances committees to review funding for the New Franklin Police Department. Bollas said the department has two continuing levies, including a 2.5-mill levy first approved by voters in 1981 that now collects $292,000 annually, and a 3-mill levy first passed in 1991 that currently collects $531,718.

“It is very difficult to run a business without any increase in revenue over that many years,” said Bollas. “We have to do something sooner or later.”

According to Bollas, the department’s budget of $1.7 million has been supplemented by the General Fund for several years. In 2011, it received $725,000 from the General Fund, and in 2012 it received $700,000. In 2013, the amount is expected to be more than $700,000, he added.

Bollas said state cuts to local government funding to the city by almost $500,000 and the elimination of the inheritance tax has put more of a strain on the city’s General Fund. He suggested one of the police levies could be replaced. If replaced instead of renewed, the 2.5-mill levy would collect $750,000 instead of $292,000.

Currently, 1 mill in New Franklin collects $300,000, according to Bollas.

Bollas asked for some direction from the committees on how to increase revenue for the Police Department.

Councilman Paul Adamson (Ward 1), who chairs the Finance Committee, said he favored an increase in the income tax, which would affect anyone working in the city, over a levy, which is aimed at property owners.

Currently, the city has a 1 percent income tax. The city placed a 1 percent income tax increase on the ballot in 2008, and 77 percent of voters voted against the request.

A 0.5-percent income tax increase would bring in an estimated $500,000, according to Bollas.

In related business, Bollas stated the five-year, 5.75-mill fire levy is due to expire Dec. 31. It collects $1.7 million for department operations. He suggested placing a renewal of the levy on the November General Election ballot.

Also, Bollas reported state auditors have suggested the city hire a full-time finance director and/or income tax administrator. Currently, the city has a part-time finance director and uses the Regional Income Tax Agency (RITA) to do its income tax collections, which costs about $37,000 annually.

Adamson asked city officials to provide information on what a full-time finance director would cost the city.

Bollas also announced the city’s charter is up for review this year, and he presented a list of residents to be appointed to the Charter Review Commission. Council approved the appointments 6-1, with Councilman Gust Kalapodis (Ward 4) voting “no.”

Prior to the vote, Kalapodis stated he “resents” that no one from Ward 4 was selected to serve on the Charter Review Commission. At least one applicant for the commission seats came from Ward 4 — Frances Kalapodis, who is Gust Kalapodis’ wife.

Bollas responded that all residents are invited to attend the meetings and make suggestions.

The approved list of residents to serve on the Charter Review Commission include:

√ John Perduyne, chairman of the original Charter Commission, whose members were elected in 2005;

√ Robin Aikey, vice chair of the original Charter Commission;

√ retired Fire Chief Perry Surgeon, a member of the original Charter Commission;

√ Eric Roberts, a member of the first Charter Review Commission in 2008;

√ Bill Hunter, a member of the original Charter Commission;

√ Carol Adamson, a member of the original Charter Commission; and

√ Joe Parsons, a former at-large Council member.

The Charter Review Commission is expected to begin meeting soon to review the city’s charter for any amendments, which would have to be approved by voters. The meetings will be open to the public.

In other business, Council approved the transfer of funds among funds and authorization to dispose of personal property via Internet auction.

Also, Law Director Tom Musarra announced the Manchester High School Mock Trial Team is seeking donations to help bring Mary Beth Tinker to speak to the students. At 13, Tinker and her brother, John, then 15, and their friend, Christopher Eckhardt, then 16, sued a Des Moines school board in 1965, with help from the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, when their school suspended them for wearing black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War, according to the American Civil Liberties Union website. The court ruled that First Amendment rights applied to public schools, according to the website.

The Mock Trial Team is re-enacting the case and would like to bring in Tinker as a speaker. Anyone wishing to make a donation may contact the team coach, attorney Lynn Clark, at 330-882-5866.

During the organizational meeting held prior to the regular meeting, Councilman David Stock (Ward 3) was re-elected president of Council and Councilman Harry Gehm (at large) was re-elected vice president.

The next regular Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

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