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7 percent Mahoning tax hike adopted

Published December 11. 2009 05:00PM

Mahoning Township residents will see a 0.25 mill or 7 percent increase in their taxes with the adoption of the 2010 budget by supervisors at Wednesday evening's meeting. The $2,076,728 package was adopted unanimously by the board although Supervisor George Stawnyczyj said he was voting for it with reservations.

"I have no comment," Stawnyczyj said prior to the meeting when he was asked why he voted against the preliminary budget in November although he did vote for the final budget later in the meeting.

One issue that may be at the heart of the matter is for the first time in several years supervisors are not allocating any millage to the Building and Land fund. In previous budgets for the last several years, the fund was allocated a 0.25 mill of the revenues collected by the township.

Instead for 2010, in a move supervisor John Wieczorek said was temporary, the millage will be redirected toward the General Purposes fund along with the 0.25 mill increase supervisors included in the budget. The result will be a net 0.5 mill increase in General Purposes, but the effect on taxpayers is a 0.25 mill increase. The millage for Fire Protection and for Roads and Machinery will remain at 0.25 mill each while the General Purpose fund's millage will be 3.25 up from 2.75 last year.

Supervisor Travis Steigerwalt said during the adoption of the tentative budget that supervisors were doing their best to hold the line as much as possible. "People have lost their jobs or have had their pay reduced and I don't want us to be any more of a burden to them than we have to be," he said in November's meeting.

The 3.75 mill budget means that a property owner in the township with real estate valued at $100,000 and is assessed at $50,000 will be paying taxes of $1,875 to the township or a $125 increase.

Also in the budget the millage for Fire Protection remained unchanged at 0.25 mill. Supervisors assured the fire company they would do everything they could to support them, but could not justify raising taxes to increase the funding as at the time, they were not clear as to what such an increase would be needed for by the company. Fire Chief Mark Ebberts supplied supervisors with a long range plan outlining when equipment needed to be replaced prior to Wednesday evening's meeting.

Supervisor John Wieczorek told Ebberts during the meeting his position which was that he couldn't support increasing the millage based on what he knew during the budget process but assured Ebberts that he did not speak for or against the idea with the other supervisors as he wanted them to form their own opinions. He told the board that with the down economy he was concerned about raising the millage for fire protection at this time stating that there might be other ways to obtain the financing when needed.

Ebberts said they have looked into alternative funding and have not been able to secure outside grants to date but that anything is possible in the future. He pointed out in order to plan the only funding that they can anticipate with any surety is the allocation from the supervisors.

Wieczorek asked Ebberts if any further progress was made on bringing in someone to help the fire company with their finances. Ebberts told him that they were waiting until the first of the year due to the closeness of the holidays, but he would let the board know when they did.

Steigerwalt said he supported the fire company's efforts and was glad to see their long range plan. He assured the fire department the supervisors would be there when needed to support them as they purchase equipment in the future. He said Ebberts letter outlining their ten year plan was well written, and that fire protection is on his list of things to address in 2010. "You aren't forgotten," he assured them.

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