Falls manager: Police cuts loom

NEWTON FALLS – Cuts to police services are inescapable now that a proposed 0.35 percent tax increase failed in Tuesday’s election, according to Jack Haney, village manager.

“We have to live within our means,” Haney said. “There is no choice. We have already made cuts in other departments. The only one left really is the police department.”

Those means have been dwindling over the past several years, he said. The revenue of the general fund, which supports the police department, fire department and more, dropped by $430,000 between 2005 and a projected 2014 amount.

While the village’s revenue increased slightly for 2013 because the forgiveness tax – giving residents credit for income tax paid to another municipality – was revoked for the year, and the plunge in funds will only be more dramatic for 2014, he said.

Village officials predicted a 2013 revenue of more than $690,000, while the 2014 prediction is $485,000.

Compounding the problem is the elimination of tangible personal property taxes and inheritance taxes. The tax increase would have brought in about $240,000 annually.

Why police?

“It’s by far the largest single recipient of general fund money,” Haney said.

Residents knew the income tax increase would be used for police, and they still voted it down, he said. Voters also defeated a police levy last year.

That makes it obvious that residents want and are willing to be satisfied with less police support, Haney said.

According to village documents released to encourage voter support of the income tax increase, 81 percent of the police expenses are personnel costs.

“The only way to make the necessary cuts in this department will be to cut personnel costs. The use of part-time staff would be very limited and the scheduling would need to be cut to a bare minimum coverage,” the document states.

Mayor Lyle Waddell was not quick to say police personnel cuts would have to be made, preferring to say “all options are on the table.” That is, all options except putting the village under the jurisdiction of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office.

Though the village has never formally requested a cost analysis from the sheriff to take over police coverage, Waddell said he has looked over a contract proposed by the county and did not find a significant amount of savings.

“You only have X amount of dollars to play with, so services will have to be cut one way or another,” he said. “Somewhere, somehow they are going to be cut.”

New police Chief Gene Fixler will be out of the office until Tuesday and was unavailable for comment.