Passage of Issue 2 means more funding for Twinsburg police, fire
Six months after voters overturned the city's attempt to boost finding for police and fire services, voters agreed to approve a property tax increase for the same purpose,.
At the May 4 primary election, voters approved Issue 2, a 2.4-mill property tax levy, by a margin of 1,584 to 1,288.
The levy will generate $1.7 million a year for the city's safety forces and will cost the owner of a $100,000 about $7 a month.
"“I want to thank the residents for coming out to vote and their support of Issue 2," Mayor Ted Yates said. "This dedicated revenue stream will help protect our core services and indirectly help continue all the amenities and programming that makes Twinsburg such a special place to live.”
The levy includes 0.7 mills slated for police officer pensions, and another 0.7 mills for firefighter pensions. The final 1 mill is for police/fire capital improvements. The results from the election are slated to be certified on May 25.
Issue 2 funds can only be spent on safety services, Yates said. The levy also means certain capital improvement projects can be scheduled as planned.
Yates called the city a "growing community," adding the funding is needed to maintain services.
“We will continue improving our services and ways in which we support the community. Our priority, as always, is protecting our residents and providing the best possible care for our community," he said. "With the help of our residents and all who worked so hard on passing this levy, we will be able to provide for those who risk their lives every day."
Twinsburg City Council President Jo-Ann McFearin also thanked voters for approving the measure.
Approval of the tax comes six months after a 2.4% tax increase for police and fire was approved by city council in October, 2020. The increase was for the identical purpose as Issue 2, but it was nullified at the November general election when voters approved a measure lowering the amount of millage the city could impose without voter approval from 7 mills to 2 mills.
With millage already in place, the city had to place Issue 2 on the ballot to obtain the added funding.
Individuals who had put the November, 2020 measure on the ballot did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Robert Coleman said he voted for Issue 2, but was not happy with some of the current administration's actions, particularly with the clubhouse at Gleneagles Golf Course. The $6.1 million clubhouse, which officially opened in October 2018 and includes a restaurant, golf shop and banquet facilities, has been controversial, with some residents questioning the costs.
"We don't think that was well planned out. But you don't cut your nose off to spite your face ... We have got great police and fire in the city," said Coleman, who has lived in Twinsburg with his wife for 40 years. "We have great services in Twinsburg."
A bigger issue, Coleman said, was the low voter turnout; he said he was "dumbfounded" at how few people came out to vote.
Out of just under 14,000 registered voters in the city, 2,872 cast ballots, for a turnout of around 20%.
"I was surprised so few people felt it is important," Coleman said. "There were four really important issues that really affected Twinsburg in one way or another. I don't understand that. We seem to be becoming a society where we complain and take offense, but not be willing to take action that will make things work."
Coleman said he would like to see more people coming together to iron out their differences and getting needed work done.
In December, the city conducted a survey and planned a series of virtual meetings to gather feedback from residents to gauge their support on city services and their feelings about several potential tax increase options.
Of more than 1,000 residents who responded, nearly 62% responded they would be "very supportive" or "supportive," of the 2.4-mill levy for police and fire, with nearly 17% responding they were neutral. Roughly 22% said they were "unsupportive" or "very unsupportive" of the property tax levy.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org