Levy and cuts needed in Boardman, clerk says
Boardman faces a 3.4 million deficit by year's end, Leicht said.
BY ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Fiscal officer William Leicht urged township residents to support a levy at a meeting between trustees and union heads.
"It's time that we go to the public and tell them we're out of money," he said Thursday. "We need their help to continue the level of service."
Boardman's union leaders were silent after Leicht's presentation on the township's projected 3.4 million deficit by year's end. Labor heads were asked to suggest 25 percent cuts to their budgets at a meeting April 4.
Despite his urging for a levy, Leicht said budget cuts also would likely be necessary to correct the discrepancy between revenues and expenditures in Boardman.
"We have to have some happy medium," he said. "That's why we're here."
A property tax levy would have to be as large as 9 mills to correct the imbalance in the township's financial books, he said.
Township revenues have declined since 1996, while salaries have doubled to keep pace with rapid commercial and residential growth, he said.
Fueling the situation
Boardman historically has relied on reserves to bridge the gap between expenditures and revenues, but now the township's reserve is nearly dry, he said.
Furthermore, the township faces the elimination of the source of 15 percent of its revenues by 2008 through state-level tax cuts.
The Ohio Legislature's 2005 elimination of the Ohio tangible personal property tax will take effect next year. State legislators also are considering phasing out the estate tax, which makes up a significant portion of Boardman's revenues, he said.
The combination could cost Boardman as much as 3 million per year, he said.
After Leicht's dire assessment of Boardman's financial future, Trustee Kathy Miller tried to reassure employees and their families.
"We know this is a very distressing time for those that are employed in this township," she said. "We will do everything we can to keep you employed."
Administrator Jason Loree asked union heads to return with amended budgets for a meeting tentatively scheduled for May 11.
"Any solution is going to be a cooperative effort," added Trustee Robyn Gallitto.
Trustee authorization for a levy would have to take place by late summer to get it on the November ballot, Leicht said.