Austintown looking to fund police dept.

AUSTINTOWN — Township trustees are considering several options for a police levy on the May ballot.

A 2.4-mill and a 0.8-mill police levy currently exist, according to Trustee Chair Rick Stauffer. Voters in November rejected an attempt to pass a 1-mill police levy and a 1-mill road levy, Stauffer said, so trustees have set the road levy aside for now but are mulling several options to bolster police coffers and will approach voters with one of those options in May.

Trustees approved Monday four resolutions to certify millages with the Mahoning County auditor to determine what kind of revenue might be generated through four different options. Under consideration are replacement of the 2.4-mill levy with an increase of 0.8-mills, an additional 1-mill levy, or replacement of both the 2.4 and 0.8-mill levies, Stauffer said.

Replacement levies allow for tax collection based on current property valuations as opposed to collecting tax on property valuations as they stood at the time of the levy’s original passage.

The police department “digs deeper” into the general fund than any other, Stauffer said, and if one of these options is approved, more general fund money will be available for other things. State cuts also have resulted in general fund losses of about $3 million over the past several years, Stauffer said, so passage of a police levy is one way to bolster that fund.

Stauffer said once trustees decide which levy to proceed with, he hopes it passes because without passage the township will be faced with some tough choices in order to continue providing the same level of services. The budget is tight as it is, Stauffer said, and without passage, the township either needs to find other sources of revenue or places to cut back.

“We wouldn’t be doing this if we absolutely didn’t have to,” Stauffer said.

The township has until Feb. 8 to file with the Mahoning County Board of Elections to get a levy on the May ballot, Stauffer said. Police Chief Bob Gavalier did not return a call seeking comment.