Police, demo levies may appear on November ballot

EAST LIVERPOOL – Voters could be looking at two levies on the November ballot if City Council approves a recommendation made Tuesday by its finance committee.

The committee agreed to forward for council’s consideration legislation asking the county auditor to certify a 4-mill police levy and a 2-mill current expenses levy that would be earmarked for demolition of dilapidated properties.

Both levies would be in effect for five years with the money generated used specifically for the purposes described: police operations and demolition.

While there is no plan at this time to hire additional police officers with the levy, should voters approve, Chief John Lane said the money would go a long way toward helping his officers be proactive rather than reactive.

He said lack of funding often makes it difficult to man all shifts adequately due to vacations and for other reasons when officers are off duty, meaning he sometimes has as few as two men on a shift. This leaves little time for patrolling.

Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell agreed, saying, “The department has a lot of needs, and those needs are not cheap. We’ve made a lot of investments in that department in radios and the fleet but some days there are only a couple guys on a shift. People want to see patrols.”

The committee was on the fence whether to seek 3 or 4 mills, and Estell said that, while “3 mills would help, 4 mills would be an even bigger help.”

He pointed out, “We are trying desperately to re-develop the city and making a safer community will definitely help that.”

It is estimated each mill would generate about $65,000.

Committee member Charles Wade said, “There’s not a neighborhood in the in town that doesn’t have a drug problem and the police are trying to do their best, but if they could get rid of some of these characters it would help with the re-development (of the city).”

The 4-mill general expenses levy would be earmarked only for demolition of properties already listed with the Planning Department as being considered for demolition, with an 11-page list presented at Tuesday’s committee meeting.

On that list from the county auditor’s office are 135 structures, some dating as far back as 1995 on the condemned list. It was noted that the list could change pending title searches, court orders and changes in ownership.

Chairman Sherrie Curtis said the levy, if approved, should generate enough to tear down 20 houses annually for five years at a cost of about $5,000-8,000 per house.

If council approves the legislation to have the county auditor certify the levy amounts, it would then have to approve additional legislation to actually place the levies on the November ballot in separate measure.

Estell pointed out that it is nothing the city did to waste money that is causing the need for additional money but the loss of “massive amounts” of money from the state level as state legislators attempt to balance their budget.

Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers at City Hall.