The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

October 29, 2013

Street levy, charter issues on Conneaut’s fall ballot

By MARK TODD
Staff Writer

CONNEAUT — A tax issue aimed at helping Conneaut’s streets and unpaved roads is back before voters in a slightly abridged form.

The levy joins three proposed city charter amendments on the municipal ballot.

City administrators say a five-year, 2.75-mill levy is critical to a repair program for paved and unpaved streets and roads. The city budget cannot afford repairs without the money the tax would raise, officials have said.

The measure would generate an estimated $500,000 annually, money that would be used strictly to purchase asphalt, stone and other material. Funds will not be used for employee wages, equipment, signs or water/sewer projects. A minimum of 20 percent of the revenue would be earmarked for secondary roads, officials have said.

One year ago, voters barely rejected a 10-year version of the same levy, turning it down by a 2,414-2,244 margin. Administrators, told voters would support a shorter levy, responded by cutting the lifespan in half. If successful, the measure would take the place of a .15 percent increase in the city income tax that expired at the end of 2012.

Recently, City Manager Tim Eggleston said a repair list would contain streets graded by their condition and traffic. Cost to a taxpayer with a home valued at $100,000 (no homestead exemption) would be $7.02 per month, according to information from the city finance office.

Elsewhere, voters will consider three changes to the city charter rejected last fall.  The changes will bring Conneaut’s charter in compliance with state law. The measures would:

• Eliminate a requirement that the town’s finance and law directors must live within the city limits

• Set ground rules for City Council when deciding compensation for itself, the city manager and other municipal employees. Regarding elected officials, for example, council must fix the compensation no later than 90 days prior to an election. It had previously been 75 days.

Ballot language can be viewed in its entirely at electionsonthe.net, the Ashtabula County Board of Elections website.