by Andrew SchunkTwinsburg Bulletin EditorReminderville -- It will be up to voters to decide if the Reminderville Police Department will remain at its current staffing level of eight full-time officers through 2007, according to village officials.Village Council voted Jan. 9 to send an income tax increase to the May 8 ballot. It would raise the income tax rate for the village's 3,800 residents from 1.5 percent to 2 percent, according to Reminderville Fiscal Officer Linda Baker, and would generate about $365,000 per year for the police department.The increase would take effect in July if it passes, according to Baker."Council has directed me that if I want to continue the department's service at the same level, the levy needs to pass," said Police Chief Jeff Buck.According to Buck, the department's current $765,-000 budget will only fund the department through June. The department already has eliminated many of its community programs, including Safety Town and the Easter egg hunt, based on a $182,000 cut to the department when the village's overall $1.67 million operations budget was passed in December.If the levy fails, Buck said he will have to eliminate two full-time officers, including the lone officer that makes up the detective bureau and an officer who overlaps another officer on the night shift. THOSE eliminations could take place immediately following the May election, Buck said.Councilwoman Jennifer Flynn said she disagreed with staffing cuts Buck said he may have to implement if the income tax hike fails, saying "only one officer will need to be cut."Flynn explained one officer's position out of the eight full-time positions will be funded through June. One officer costs the village between $50,000 and $60,000 per year, she said."If the [tax increase] fails, an officer will have to be eliminated. If it passes, we will allocate the $25,000 to $30,000 necessary to fund one officer for the rest of the year."Councilman Steve Milano said if the tax increase fails, no officers would need to be eliminated; there would simply be "no growth" for the department."It absolutely should go before the people ... they should decide on the merits of the issue," Milano said.Councilman Ed Walter said he feels "any tax increase like [this] should be sent to the ballot."We absolutely need the voters' opinions on it because of the amount of money. I wouldn't feel comfortable taking it on myself."Councilman Wendell Phillips said the proposed income tax hike is a viable alternative to using Joint Economic Development District funds, which are generated by income taxes from an industrial district shared between Twinsburg Township and Reminderville, to supplement the village's operating budget. PHILLIPPS added passage of the increase would give the police department the same level of "base funding" the fire department currently receives with a levy, which also generates about $365,000 per year."We're putting it out there," he said. "We wouldn't be proposing it if we didn't feel it was important."Councilwoman Mary Jo Kiss said she put fliers out last fall when Council was considering cutting the police department's budget. They asked residents if they would be willing to support a police tax to maintain the same level of service.The overwhelming response from residents, she said, was they did not want to see any services cut and would support such a tax increase. Kiss added the proposed income tax increase seemed to be the best compromise."As the village grows, services need to grow," she said. "We needed to come up with some extra operations money."Kiss added she "would be surprised" if the income tax increase did not pass in May, based on the success of the fire department's levy more than seven years ago."That was a landslide," she said. "The public overwhelmingly supported it. Services are pretty much what Reminderville is all about."Mayor Sam Alonso said he "would be voting for the levy," while Councilman Albert Williams did not return calls seeking comment.Editor's note: Reporter Joe Murphy contributed to this story.E-mail: aschunk@recordpub.comPhone: 440-232-4055 ext. 4106