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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.

Concerned Neighbor January 03, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Change the tax method!! Income tax is NOT a fair distribution of the cost. Raise fees to offenders as the Stow court building does. Let the jail users be the payers.
Pat January 03, 2013 at 04:58 PM
Increase the sales tax for X amount of years. That way the students who usually pass our levies can also share in the tax.
Jon Ridinger January 03, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Actually, students play a very small role in passing levies since relatively few students vote here. Many still vote where their legal residence is and many simply don't vote regardless of where they're registered, especially for non-presidential elections like this will be (the lowest voter turnout in Kent is almost always in the precincts that are around KSU). Many students, however, DO pay Kent income tax even if they don't live in the city if they work in Kent (such as the many student workers on campus). Further, sales tax is a regressive tax, meaning the poorest actually pay a larger percentage of their income to it, so it hurts them a lot more. That's on top of the fact it would encourage businesses to leave Kent or not come here in the first place.
Raymond January 04, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Who said anything about closing Franklin school? Can you read?
Rachel Marie January 04, 2013 at 03:11 AM
I just read an article the other day stating the KPD is looking for people to attend their citizens police academy. Maybe you should try it out, maybe you will show them a better way, eh?
Concerned Neighbor January 04, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Tax, tax ,tax... Is that as inventive as we can be? If I'm not mistaken, Brimfield, likely with less resources than Kent, built a new police station with no new taxes.
Dale Pudloski January 04, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Hey, Mr Confederate Man, I note you made an earlier positive remark about the Kent Fire Department and are now making a negative against the Kent Police. What's wrong with the police force? I've lived in Kent my entire life (64 years) and I've always thought they've been fair...even when they ticketed me for speed.
Jack Kelly January 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM
"That way the students who usually pass our levies can also share in the tax." - Says the highly-uneducated person who posts online. Hopefully 'knowing what you're talking about' is topping your 2013 resolutions.
Jack Kelly January 05, 2013 at 06:01 PM
You take pride is posting such stupidity, don't you? I'll answer that for you: yeah, you do. #staystupidin2013
Confederate American January 05, 2013 at 07:45 PM
So Jack, you think calling people names makes you feel better. That's okay somebody has to be that guy. Might as well be you. Stupid is spending an extra 6,000,000 dollars especially when you don't have it

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