LONDON: Voters say ‘No’ to tax
By Jane Beathard
A proposed .05 percent income tax increase to independently fund the London Fire Department went down in flames on Tuesday.
Unofficial results from the Madison County Board of Elections tallied 1,740 votes for the tax increase and 2,114 against, with all city precincts reporting.
The nearly 10 percent vote deficit surprised Mayor Dave Eades.
“I thought it would be closer,” Eades said.
City council voted to “sunset” the current 1.4-mill property tax that current supports fire protection if the income tax increase passed. That re-balancing of funds aimed to free $800,000 for general operations and improvements to sidewalks, streets and other infrastructure.
Without that money, the city will suffer a reduction in services — especially safety services, Eades said.
“If it (income tax) passed, we were going to gradually restore services. That won’t happen now,” Eades added.
Council will vote this month on a proposed 2013 budget that cuts funding for most city departments by 15 percent. Police chief Dave Wiseman told city council last week the reduction means five fewer officers on patrol in the city. At times, only one patrolman will be on duty.
Eades said it also means two fewer part-time firefighters and a limited number of street department workers. Some clerical employees will see fewer hours in their work week. The municipal swimming pool will remain shuttered next summer.
Faced with declining financial support from the state of Ohio in local government funds, city leaders have few alternatives.
“I wish I had an answer,” Eades said.