Police Levy Unlikely for May Ballot
City council takes no action to put income tax or other issue on ballot for new police station
It doesn't look like Kent voters will see a tax increase to pay for a new police station on the upcoming May ballot.
At the recommendation of city administrators, members of Kent City Council opted not to take a vote Wednesday that would have placed some sort of tax increase on the May ballot to pay for an estimated $18.36 million building to replace the aging Kent Police Department.
Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said city staff brought the issue to council this week because the city would have to file with the Portage County Board of Elections by February to put any such issue on the May ballot.
"From our perspective, I think we would prefer to continue to work through some of the issues and better understand what happened with the first levy that failed — not by much, but it failed," Ruller said. "The other piece we have since learned is the school system is going in too with a levy request. We’d prefer not to be going head to head on an issue like that with the school system."
In November, Kent voters rejected a proposed 0.25 percent income tax increase that would have paid for the new police station. Kent voters denied the proposed tax increase with 5,490 votes cast against it and 4,486 votes for the increase — a 1,004 vote margin.
In December, the Kent City Schools Board of Education voted to put a 8.9 mill operating levy on the May ballot that would raise $4.25 million per year. It would cost the owner of a house valued at $100,000 for tax purposes $272.56 per year.
Ruller said the goal of discussing it briefly Wednesday was to make sure council members didn't want to put a tax increase issue on the May ballot.
"We'll have more detailed discussions in the coming months ... about whether or not you even go for November," he said.
Even though council didn't act Wednesday to put a tax issue on the May ballot it doesn't mean there still isn't a chance of such an issue showing up. Council could call a special meeting this month to address the issue.
And immediately after Ruller's brief presentation Wednesday council recessed into a closed-doors executive session, to discuss "land acquisition," that included Kent Safety Director William Lillich, Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee and Budget and Finance Director Dave Coffee.
Kent Councilman John Kuhar said the two most common issues he's heard from residents about the issue that failed in November was a lack of detailed information about the new building and the fact the proposed tax increase was permanent.
"I've heard the same thing," Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala said.
Last month Lillich told Kent Patch that one of several possibilities for paying for a new police station would be to put the same tax increase on the ballot with a set expiration date.