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EL looks to raise $400,000 with new levy effort

EAST LIVERPOOL — Voters might find themselves pondering another issue on the March primary ballot, after council voted Thursday night to take the first step in levying a 5-mill issue on property owners within the city limits.

With only Brian Kerr voting “no,” his remaining six council colleagues agreed to request the Columbiana County auditor to “certify certain tax valuation information in anticipation of levying a tax in excess of the 10-mill limitation with emergency language.

The move comes a week after findings were revealed from a November ballot issue that overwhelmingly disallowed the use of traffic cameras.

Before council members voted, Mayor Ryan Stovall, who was in attendance, did inform them that it was his intention to veto proposed pay raises for the mayor, law director and auditor if they intended to pass it especially if they were going to pursue the ballot issue, acknowledging that for once he and Kerr, an at-large councilman who ran against him for mayor in November, agree on something.

The last pay raises for Law Director Charles Payne and Marilyn Bosco were in 2003.

Stovall was defeated for mayor by write-in candidate Greg Bricker, who was sworn in earlier in the day. The raises are deserving, but the timing is bad, Stovall added.

John Mercer and Kerr both agree that the raises don’t seem appropriate when the city is seeking more money from voters in the form of a property tax.

Bricker was absent from Thursday’s special council meeting that ended after approximately 10 minutes.

Councilman Fred Rayl, who oversees the finance committee, expressed understanding for Stovall’s position but described the pay increases as “modest.”

Council President John Torma reminded members to consider how that they wanted to act on those pay raises, considering Stovall’s warning, and ponder what they wish to do at Monday’s regular meeting. It would take six of seven council members to override a mayoral veto of any legislation that was passed if they choose to do so.

According to Rayl, the levy is expected to generate $438,800 annually for “current expenses of the subdivision.”

There was no announcement regarding whether the city plans to appeal its legal case against the East Liverpool Citizens Against Traffic Cameras case.

Last week, Bricker had expressed dissatisfaction with “balancing the budget on the back of our community members.”

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