XENIA — City council took the first step in placing a 3.5 mill street levy on the November ballot.
By a 5-2 vote June 28, council passed a resolution of necessity, detailing the need for the levy and requesting the county auditor to certify the city’s tax valuation and the dollar amount the levy would generate annually. Council will still need to pass a resolution to proceed, which would authorize placement of the street levy on the ballot.
According to City Finance Director Ryan Duke, the 10-year levy is estimated to generate $1.3 million annually and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $10.21 a month. Funds generated could only be spent for the construction, reconstruction, resurfacing, or repair of city streets, roads and bridges.
The condition of the streets is well documented and is mostly due to decades of under-funding, according to city officials. Council promised in 2010 if an income tax increase was approved, at least $500,000 annually would be spent on roads. The city has met or exceeded that each year, but a harsh winter expedited the deterioration of many streets. The reduction of local government funds by the state has also left smaller cities like Xenia scrambling to find additional money.
The city organized a blue ribbon panel to evaluate the situation and after several meetings, recommended the city seek out all operational and capital funding sources to find additionally resources; pursue a proactive public outreach campaign to inform citizens about the challenge; and pursue a limited-term tax levy.
In casting one of the two no votes, Councilman Dale Louderback said he thinks the city can do without a tax increase because the REACH project, and a few other “front” and “back” burner items will add to the city’s resources.
“I’m confident about the future of growing our tax base,” he said. “I look for local government funds to be addressed. Either governor (elected) is going to be better than the one we have. If people can be patient, we can do this without a tax increase.”
He did say he was happy the citizens will get to vote on the issue, however. Levi Dean cast the other no vote, making good a campaign pledge not to support new taxes.
Councilman Thomas Scrivens said he’s not necessarily in favor of paying more taxes, but he was “for the citizens of Xenia to make a decision as to whether or not they want to pony up.”
In a prepared statement, Councilman Wes Smith said he was “empathetic to both sides” of the issue of whether to increase taxs to pay for streets.
“We’ve heard your concerns and we’ve taken action to repair the streets,” he said. “We’ve overturned rocks, we looked for money. We added more to the budget.”
He urged council to place it on the ballot and, “If it fails, it fails.”
“I think the time to save our streets is now,” he said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.