Tax increase heads for ballotHere are a few articles related to how South Russell has viewed its financial situation over the last 18 months (absolutely not a complete list; CVT does not place all articles online and the Sun papers do not have everything online either):
An in increase in South Russell Village's income tax, from 1 percent to 1.25 percent, will be decided by village voters. Village Council approved a measure Monday to place the issue on the November ballot.
Residents and people who work in the village pay the municipal income tax. Village residents who work in other municipalities and pay income taxes there received a 0.75 percent credit from the village.
The income tax has not been increased since 1969, when it was first established.
Revenue from the tax go for operations, and the increase is needed to cover village expenses, officials said.
June 30, 2010: South Russell plans higher income tax
Of note: The Village has a total of three levies: two safety and one operating (Pepper Pike has one levy - for the fire department), but the article provides some details as to why the Village rejected a road or other levy. Frankly, reading this article is deja vu all over again for me, having pushed for a specific purpose levy and repeatedly challenging the reasons given by my colleagues for not supporting it.
April 21, 2010: South Russell keeps careful watch on financial picture
Of note: Commentary and recommendations for a specific purpose levy - roads in particular are singled out, though ultimately the Village has gone with the income tax.
This article notes that the Village has seen its income and property tax revenue decline each year since (but not including) 2006. In particlar, related to expenses v. revenues:
Operating expenses are expected to increase at a minimum of 2 percent to 3 percent each year. Wages, salaries and benefits and other expenses will continue to rise and will increase as a percentage of the total operating expenses, Mr. Binder [council member who chairs their finance committee] said.And thus what's puzzled me from the start: these are knowns that can and should be used for budgeting - and in this economic climate (precarious recovery re: jobs and housing in particular, shadows over estate tax continuing to exist at all), certainly not best case scenario planning. So when people say that no one saw "this" coming, well, this is why that is hard to accept. It does not negate the current financial need - it only goes to why Pepper Pike's Issue 3 (putting more discipline on the budgeting approval process) is so critical, among other reforms.
Major revenue streams are fixed and some revenue streams may decline or even be discontinued, Mr. Binder said.
February 4, 2009: Mayor is upbeat about state of his village
Of note: Statements about not taking on anything big in 2009 and taking a "conservative approach."
As for Beachwood, this article is from last week. I've been keeping an eye on their website and emailed the City but have not heard back. They had a special council session scheduled last night. Again, if you read the article - deja vu all over again.
Can it really be that everyone (municipalities that is) planned poorly or is this more about the absolute, permanent change in our economy and the inadequacies of Ohio's law for how municipalities operate? Poor planning certainly can exacerbate a situation, but still...