Voter turnout may have been low in Tuesday's primary, but those that headed to the polls passed several local issues, according to unofficial totals. Liberty, Newton Township and Weathersfield all passed measures to increase taxes.
Meanwhile, a proposed income tax increase for Newton Falls failed at the polls.
Taxpayers in Liberty approved a levy for road repairs and resurfacing, winning by an unofficial 53.9 percent in favor to 46.1 against with all precincts reporting. Results are incomplete and unofficial until certified by the Board of Elections by May 27.
The five-year, 1.25-mill levy will cost an additional $43.75 per year for every $100,000 in property value and raise around $256,000 for the township. The township will now also be able to apply for grant money with its local matching funds.
Liberty Township Trustee Jodi Stoyak said, "I drive these roads a lot, and I can say that all of the roads are bad, and that's why we tried to pass something five years ago."
In a close race, Weathersfield voters passed a replacement levy to help subsidize its police department, with 51.8 percent voting for the levy and 48.1 voting against it.
The 1.8-mill replacement levy will cost owners of an average $100,000 home about $44 a year. Township Administrator Dave Rouan estimates it will bring in about $135,000 in additional tax revenue for the police department.
Rouan said the voters showed their approval with the trustees and police department's track record of fiscal responsibility.
"The plan is to continue to purchase much-needed equipment, replace vehicles and we also are going to be increasing the department by adding a ninth full-time officer," he said.
The third try succeeded for Newton Township's bid for a half-mill cemetery levy. About 56 percent of voters favored the levy, which failed on the last two attempts by a narrow percentages.
The levy is expected to bring in about $63,000 for maintenance of the cemeteries. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $17.50 a year.
"It would help us to get out of fiscal caution and go a long way all around," Trustee Doreen Lutz said earlier Tuesday before all the precincts were counted.
Passage of the levy is part of the township's plan to remove itself from a state of fiscal caution, which the state auditor placed them in October 2012.
The township's cemetery fund ended 2013 with an about $64,000 deficit.
While leaders in three communities were jubilant Tuesday night, Newton Falls faced a tough loss. A half-percent income tax increase aimed at covering budget cuts failed at the polls.
"As a council, we'll have to put our heads together to turn this stumbling block into a stepping stone," Councilman Tarry Alberini said.
The increase would have generated about $250,000 for the general fund - an attempt to cover the $430,000 decrease the village general fund saw between 2005 and 2014. The money was to be used to maintain services in the police department, the street department and parks and recreation programs.
"We have to respect the vote of the people and the vote says the people turned down the half-percent increase," Alberini said. "Our work is cut out for us to keep the city going."
- Colin Harris, Ashley Newman, Margaret Thompson