Friday, Jul 01, 2016
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Liberty Center parks levy likely on ballot

LIBERTY CENTER, Ohio - A new 0.25 percent, continuous income tax that would raise about $40,000 a year to install playground equipment and concession stands in the village's two parks and maintain the areas is likely to be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Village council is to vote Aug. 16 on whether to place it on the ballot, Mayor Max Fetterman said.

The village, which does not have a levy specifically for parks, has been spending $10,000 to $12,000 a year from its general operating fund to maintain Memorial Park, which also is commonly called Cherry Street Park, and Steward Park.

But village leaders want to add two complexes of playground equipment to Memorial Park and one at Steward Park and each complex they're considering costs $40,000 to $50,000, the mayor said.

If approved, the levy would increase the village's total income tax rate to 1.25 percent. The village does not charge residents who work in an area, such as Toledo, that takes a higher income tax out of their paychecks.

"We're a bedroom community, so we have an awful lot of people who do that," Mayor Fetterman said.

The village's nearly identical income tax request last November failed 196-309.

Mayor Fetterman said one of council's challenges in gaining voter approval is that more residents of Liberty and Washington townships, which surround the village, appear to use the parks than village residents. Yet, the levy would tax only village residents.

Village leaders have not formally asked township trustees to put a levy supporting the village parks before their residents. Mayor Fetterman said he doubted the trustees would agree to such a plan.

Village council, which has had two readings of the income tax measure, also considered raising the money it wants through a property tax or by reducing the income tax credit it gives to residents who work elsewhere.

But the property tax would have billed residents who might not be earning money, such as retirees, and reducing the income tax credit seemed like double taxation, the mayor said.

However, an extra 0.25 percent income tax could affect some village residents who have not paid its income tax previously.

The village allows a credit on its income tax of whatever local income tax residents have paid where they work. So a village resident working in a city where the local tax is 1 percent has not owed any Liberty Center income tax to date but would owe 0.25 percent if the proposed levy were approved.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.

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