Fayette’s long-running 2.9-mill operational levy hasn’t changed since 1968, and it’s not going to change for the next five years, either.
Council members voted 4-1 Thursday, with council Gerry Gonzales absent, to seek a five-year renewal of the levy. The option to replace the levy would have increased revenue by updating the levy to current property values.
Council will also seek a renewal of the 2.0-mill park levy.
Village administrator Tom Spiess told councilors of the need for replacement, noting the vast increases of costs for goods and services since 1968. To top it off, he received a note from Toledo Edison that day informing him of an impending end to discounted rates for water and sewer plants.
That communication arrived just as council members struggle to create a balanced budget.
Councilor Ruth Marlatt pushed for replacement.
“Let the voters decide if they can handle it,” she said.
If the measure is turned down in May, it could be placed back on the November ballot as a renewal measure.
Craig Rower noted the increase in sewer rates ahead due to the separation project and said he can’t justify raising taxes for village residents.
Paul Shaffer said eventually people won’t be able to afford to live in Fayette, nor will anyone want to move to the community.
“At what point are we going to tax people out of town?” Rower asked.
Marlatt responded to a comment about fears of the group becoming a tax-and-spend council by noting the cuts already taken. The village has a part-time police chief, is considering a part-time administrator, and is cutting back on workers’ hours.
“And you think we’re going to tax and spend?”
Fiscal officer Lisa Zuver told council that most property tax revenue goes into the general fund and noted the village is already $6,000 behind in revenue.
“It’s not like we’re trying to increase the millage,” Ken Delphous said. “We’re just trying to put it into today’s dollars.”
He said the money is needed to provide basic services and the village is just squeaking by on a 1968 level of funding.
Replacing the operating levy would increase funding from $19,606 to $43,948, based on information provided by county auditor Nancy Yackee. The owner of a $75,000 home would pay $61 more a year.
Marlatt was the only council member to oppose renewing the operating levy. Council voted unanimously to seek renewal of the park levy.
A request to advance $4,000 to the park board was also turned down. Rower, Shaffer and Mike Maginn opposed the request, stating frustration that board members failed to organize any fund raisers in the past year.
“Provide for yourself before you ask someone for help,” Rower said. “Not a single fund raiser. Nothing was done.”