New Warren income tax to raise $3.3 million

WARREN — The city stands to see about $3.3 million more in income tax collections because of the 0.5 percent increase approved by voters earlier this month, but that’s less than what city officials claimed the increase would generate leading up to Election Day.

During the campaign, officials estimated the city would collect $3.5 million to $4 million extra, however, unexpected reductions at the General Motors Complex in Lordstown and losses at Trumbull Memorial Hospital caused Auditor Vince Flask to revise downward what he believes the tax will generate.

Even so, the projected 2017 general fund budget, which pays for most day-to-day operations in the city, including the police and fire departments, will increase from $23.5 million to $28.2 million.

Flask expects to turn over a 2017 budget to council members prior to today’s city council finance committee meeting.

“We will have within these projections the funds allowing the city to begin hiring police officers throughout the year,” Flask said.

Officials throughout the tax campaign estimated the city will be able to hire eight to 10 police officers and eight to 10 firefighters if the tax increase was approved. There was also a pledge to create a road improvement program. New hires in the police department would bring it to 69 officers plus the chief.

Once the city’s police staffing is increased to 70 officers, it will be eligible to apply for a federal Community Oriented Policing Services grant that will let the city leverage against additional money.

Meanwhile, Flask created a reserve fund in the fire department for $558,713 to be used when the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant runs out. The $2.39 million federal grant will let the city hire 15 firefighters for up to two years using federal funds to pay for them.

None as of yet have been hired with the grant dollars, however, seven of the nine people in the civil service to become firefighters have expressed an interest in the positions, said fire Chief Ken Nussle.

Also, $500,000 has been set aside for the road program, Flask said.