Area voters are being asked to approve some local tax issues for the Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools and the city of Munroe Falls, as well as to choose among candidates in multiple races, on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Schools seek permanent improvement levy

The Stow-Munroe Falls City School District is asking for voter approval of Issue 42, a 1.99-mill continuing tax levy for permanent improvement funding.

For the owner of a $200,000 market value home, the levy would cost approximately $120 per year and would raise a little over $1.8 million annually.

Under state law, the money could only be used for property, assets or improvements with an estimated life or usefulness of five years or more and not for operating expenses, such as salaries and benefits.

District officials have said the money is needed to take the burden of such costs off the general fund, which would otherwise need to be supplemented with an operating levy eventually. Immediate maintenance needs districtwide have been estimated at about $6.5 million.

Particular issues that need to be addressed, say officials, include:

Water and electrical issues in Highland Elementary School's basement, with the electrical problems potentially resulting in higher insurance costs if not addressed.

Roofing and air-conditioning work at Stow-Munroe Falls High School.

Repair cracks and holes in buildings districtwide, as well as other heating and air-conditioning, drainage, plumbing, electrical and security issues.

Besides maintenance, the district also says that to maintain its usual practice of replacing five buses each year would cost about $450,000 annually.

Officials say that if the levy passes, they will prioritize the needs with the hope of dealing with them over the next five years.

City has three tax issues on ballot

Munroe Falls officials are working on the 2017 budget, and voters will let city officials know whether that budget will include additional revenue.

City voters will be choosing whether to approve as many as three separate local tax issues on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, including:

Issue 20, an increase in the city's income tax rate from 2 percent to 2.25 percent that city officials say would raise an estimated $276,000 annually for general operating expenses. Residents who pay local income taxes in another community would receive a 100 percent tax credit from Munroe Falls. This means that Munroe Falls residents who work in Akron, for example, where the local income tax rate is 2.25 percent, would not pay any tax in Munroe Falls while residents who work in a community where they are paying a 2 percent rate, such as Stow or Cuyahoga Falls, would pay 0.25 percent in Munroe Falls.

Issue 21, a five-year, 2.8-mill police levy that would raise about $300,000 annually and cost homeowners just under $100 annually per $100,000 in market value.

Issue 22, a 10-year, 2-mill capital improvement levy, which would raise $214,000 annually and cost homeowners about $70 annually per $100,000 in market value, to pay for such needs as road work and stormwater infrastructure.

Currently, the only city property tax levies are a 1.5-mill fire levy and a 1.7-mill EMS levy that annually raise about $160,000 and $182,000 respectively to fund the fire department's operating costs. According to the Summit County Fiscal Office, together they cost homeowners about $100 annually per $100,000 in market value.

City officials say the city is losing about $125,000 annually after the state cut municipal share of sales taxes in 2010 and about $50,000 annually after the elimination by the state of the inheritance tax in 2012.

In addition, say city officials, the two proposed property tax levies together are not much more than the 20-year, 4.25-mill capital improvement levy -- which provided about $455,000 annually to pay off a bond issue for improvements to city buildings -- that expired in 2014.

The city tried to replace the bond issue levy with a 4-mill police levy that would have raised about $430,000 annually, but voters narrowly rejected it in November 2014.

City officials also say that the income tax increase would nearly make up for an operating deficit cutting into the general fund cash reserves, which were at about $1.63 million at the beginning of the year.

"The more we do the budgets, the less sleep I get," Mayor James Armstrong told City Council Oct. 18. "We're putting together different priorities. I've spoken to all the department heads about doing a budget on the assumption that nothing passes, which means nothing really gets done, we try to tread water but we're already under water. As everybody knows the operational deficit is budgeted for $300,000. It was $480,000 last year and we can't just continue down that path."

But Armstrong said the tax increases should also improve services, not just fill budget holes. He said the city relies too much on part-time employees, which tends to result in a higher turnover rate, and needs more full timers.

In addition, he said, the city has road work that it cannot currently afford and stormwater mitigation needs that need to be met to prevent flooding that has periodically plagued the city in recent years.

One need in particular that Armstrong said has said worries him is one of two water lines under the Cuyahoga River no longer functions, leaving just a single line to provide water to areas north of the river.

Armstrong said he walked on Bermont Avenue Oct. 15 and spoke to residents about the ballot issues and received back "pretty good comments, positive," though he does not know if that will translate into yes votes.

"I was just trying to explain what the financial was, what we're trying to do," said Armstrong.

Candidates seeking offices

Besides the local tax issues, area voters have some decisions to make involving area office seekers.

Races and candidates include:

Congressional 14th District representative

Republican David P. Joyce, incumbent.

Democrat Michael Wager.

Andrew Jarvi, write-in candidate.

State 37th District representative

Democrat Casey Weinstein.

Republican Kristina Daley Roegner, incumbent.

Summit County Executive

Republican Bill Roemer.

Democrat Ilene Shapiro, incumbent.

Summit County Prosecutor

Republican John E. Chapman.

Democrat Sherri Bevan Walsh, incumbent.

Summit County Sheriff

Democrat Steve Barry, incumbent running unopposed.

Summit County Fiscal Officer

Republican Jeff Iula.

Democrat Kristen M. Scalise, incumbent.

Summit County Engineer

Democrat Alan Brubaker, incumbent running unopposed.

Summit County Council-At-Large

Republican Chris Parker.

Democrat Elizabeth M. Walters, incumbent.

Summit County Council-At-Large

Democrat Clair E. Dickinson, incumbent.

Republican Alex Pavloff.

Summit County Council District 2

Republican Nick R. Subak.

Democrat John Schmidt, incumbent.

Summit County Council District 3

Republican Gloria J. Rodgers, incumbent.

Democrat David Worhatch.

The polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. For information on polling locations, contact the Summit County Board of Elections at 330-643-5200.

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