Published: Friday, November 23, 2007
Liberty Twp. officials consider putting 911 levy on ballot again
Officials must decide by Dec. 20.
LIBERTY Voters here narrowly rejected a request for a levy to maintain 911 services without joining the Trumbull County-run system, but township officials may ask voters to reconsider.
Voters were asked to consider a five-year, 1.25-mill levy, which would bring in roughly $230,000 annually to cover the costs of running the township's 911 emergency call center.
That levy was rejected earlier this month by an unofficial 75 votes, but provisional votes have not yet been counted.
Township officials are planning their next move. They have said that the main alternative to maintaining the current township 911 service is to join the county's system. Township Administrator Pat Ungaro said officials are reluctant to do so until funding issues with the county system are worked out.
Ungaro said the county charges some communities, such as Liberty, substantially more than others to participate the system.
"There are some municipalities that have left the county system because it is not efficient," he said. "The formula would have to be worked out. They would be charging us too much money in relation to some other communities. Those things would have to be worked out."
Trustee Jodi Stoyak said Weathersfield Township and McDonald village have left the county system and are being dispatched by Niles.
The county is asking Liberty Township to pay $123,292 to join the county service, saying larger communities in the county are being charged a lesser amount.
Township officials may also consider placing the local issue on the ballot a second time.
Even if voters passed the issue on the second attempt, the money would not become available to the township until 2009 making it of no consequence for the 2008 year, Stoyak said.
Ungaro said several factors make placing the issue on the ballot for a second vote a good idea.
"The vote was close enough to consider putting it on the ballot in a presidential election," he said. "The wording is also important. Last time it did not look like a levy for 911, but another police levy."
Ungaro also said the 911 levy would be the only township issue on the ballot, allowing voters to focus on the issue. Issues on the ballot during the last election included a township fire levy renewal, an additional fire levy, a home rule issue and a renewal levy for the police department.
Police Chief Anthony Slifka, who has been in favor of maintaining the current system, said the matter should be put before voters again.
"I think the way the ballot issue was read was very misleading to people and if we put it on again it would pass," he said.
The township has until Dec. 20 to decide if the matter will be placed on the ballot again.