Weathersfield trustees want a 1.75-mill tax that would raise $340,000 annually to be spent only on equipment for the road, police and fire departments and the township cemetery. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $60 per year.
Weathersfield trustees and department heads have taken many progressive steps to more efficiently run the township. They have a vehicle fuel purchasing program with Niles, low-cost emergency dispatching through Niles, an office paper purchasing agreement with the Trumbull County Educational Service Center and a prisoner transport arraignment with Niles among them.
Trustees also have pursued a joint economic development district with Niles.
To counteract the impact of losing the tangible personal property tax, estate tax and local government fund, employees are in a 3-year wage freeze through 2013. Employees now pay 10 percent of the health care premium for their family members.
Still, it's not enough. We suggest that residents request information on potentially merging fire departments, such as McKinley Heights with Girard, West Park with Niles, Mineral Ridge with Niles or Austintown, or contracting with those neighboring communities for fire protection. It might not be efficient, for example, to have expensive fire apparatus in McKinley Heights when duplicate equipment is a couple minutes away in Girard.
We also suggest that residents ask for due diligence on similar arrangements for police protection. There might be something more efficient than Weathersfield covering Mineral Ridge and McKinley Heights, pretty far apart and separated by Niles.
It's also troublesome that Weathersfield quickly paid for an EPA-mandated salt dome independently. Trumbull County and several towns have sharply reduced the cost of the EPA mandate by sharing a dome.
Weathersfield trustees and department heads have worked hard to help the township operate more efficiently. Local governments must continue to pursue new avenues of efficiency. The state balanced its budget without raising taxes. Among the cuts Columbus made was funding to local governments. For the locals to respond by increasing taxes defeats the effort made at the state level.