CRIDERSVILLE — Residents of Cridersville will go to the polls May 4 to decide the fate of a 50% hike in the village’s income tax.
The increase in the income tax from its current 1% level to 1.5% is necessary, according to supporters, to avoid large cuts within the village police department or even the possibility of a part-time police force moving forward.
Greg Myers is serving as chairperson of the Keep Our Police Strong committee, a 14-member group of village residents representing a cross-section of age groups and residential neighborhoods in Cridersville.
Myers is a lifelong resident of the village and its former mayor. He recently retired as executive director of the Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council. He said upon an in-depth review of the village’s financial picture it became clear to the committee that without a new source of revenue the future of the police department would be in jeopardy.
According to Myers, general fund revenues in the village have been in steady decline for the past 10 years, due in large part to the elimination in 2015 of the state inheritance tax. He said the inheritance tax receipts between 2010 and 2015 contributed more than $800,000 to the village’s general fund. That money is now gone. During that same time period the village has also witnessed a steady decrease in its Local Government Fund payments, Myers said.
Village Police Chief Paul Robbins said that without additional general fund revenues specifically earmarked for police protection, “we could be looking at a part-time departmental status instead of the full-time service residents have been accustomed to. But this community has always supported us and I’m hopeful they will continue that support on May 4.”
Alternatives were explored
Cridersville Village Council explored the option of contracting with the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office for police protection, but response time during emergency situations was viewed as a negative. Council also found the option to be cost-prohibitive at the current time.
Auglaize County Sheriff Mike Vorhees recently spoke to the citizens group supporting the income tax hike to lend his support for the tax hike.
“I think it’s important to have a local police department in the community,” Vorhees said. “They can respond to calls a lot quicker than we could, and they have a more personal relationship with the residents.
“Could we supply service to the village? Certainly,” Vorhees continued. “But we don’t know what our response time would be, depending on where our deputies are in the county when we get a call.”
The sheriff said that his department will continue to support and assist the department, regardless of the outcome of the May 4 vote, but hopes residents understand the importance of maintaining their local police department.
The village currently employs a police chief, a lieutenant, three full-time officers at a rate of $14.50 per hour, five part-time officers at $12 per hour and a part-time detective at $5,000 annually.
Myers said ballot language specifies that funds derived from the additional .5% income tax being sought may be used only for the police department.
The tax, if approved by voters, would apply not only to village residents but also to individuals who live outside the village but work in Cridersville. The cost of the additional .5% income tax would be approximately $100 annually for each $20,000 of adjusted gross income.
“When I agreed to head up this committee I had two main questions: ‘Is there a legitimate need for an increase in the income tax, and can cuts be made?’” Myers said. “But after I was shown the village’s financial documents I was convinced.
“This tax increase is crucial to Cridersville.”