Mayor: Services may be cut with levy’s defeat

EAST LIVERPOOL — By a wide margin, city voters defeated a temporary 0.5 percent income tax on Tuesday’s ballot, and East Liverpool officials say cuts in service are now inevitable.

According to complete, but unofficial, results from the Columbiana County Board of Elections, 66 percent of voters supported the additional income tax, while 34 percent were opposed.

The city was initially facing a $61,000 deficit at year’s end, but Auditor Marilyn Bosco recently predicted it may squeak by with a $13,000 carryover. She has cautioned, however, that could change, depending upon expenses.

Mayor Ryan Stovall said after last night’s defeat, “We will be sitting down with the auditor in the next few weeks to see where cuts can be made that will have the least affect on services provided to our citizens. I am prepared to make these tough but necessary cuts needed to keep the city from running in a deficit and causing the state to put us in fiscal emergency.”

Asked if employee layoffs will be among those cuts, Stovall said while he does not anticipate any layoffs this year, it is “very possible” in 2017.

Service-Safety Director Brian Allen concurred that cuts are coming, saying, “The citizens spoke. They chose to cut services, so everything is on the table. At the end of the day, the city will have less services in 2017. It’s unfortunate, but it’s what the citizens want.”

Asked if layoffs are forthcoming and what this will mean to the proposed drug awareness program, Allen responded, “Everything will be evaluated and tough decisions made. Drug awareness won’t be paid for with tax dollars, that’s for sure. If it happens, it will have to be through private donations.”

The income tax was expected to generate $700,000 annually over its five-year life.