Budget deficits, cuts to utility services, and continued cramped quarters for police will be the consequences if Issue 34 doesn’t receive voter approval, according to Wellington officials.
Mayor Hans Schneider said it’s better to confront fiscal issues now rather than kicking the can down the road.
Issue 34 would raise the village income tax rate by 0.75 percent but also enact an equal tax credit for those who live in Wellington and pay taxes to another municipality.
The village has operated under a one percent local rate since 1972. Voters rejected a 0.5 percent increase in 2004 by a 738-297 margin.
“The purpose of this is to balance the general fund and reestablish the capital improvement fund spending,” Schneider said. “Normally, we put around $450,000 in our capital improvement fund. We had to cut that down to $150,000 this year to balance the budget. The village has also frozen wage compensation, not hired new staff to empty positions, and increased employee health care contributions as short-term gap measures to confront this.”
Failure at the polls means Wellington will begin 2019 with a general fund deficit of $338,000.
That hole will deepen to $402,000 in 2020, $421,000 in 2021, and $543,000 in 2022, according to village manager Steve Dupee. He also projects complete depletion of the capital improvement fund by 2022.
A prospective new 6,600-square-foot police station located at 147 and 149 East Herrick Ave. is also largely contingent on the passage of Issue 34.
Combined purchase and renovation costs at the location total roughly $1.5 million.
Police currently work in a 1,067-square-foot space adjacent to town hall. Because of the limited space, they use closets as offices, store urine samples near eating areas, and place storage lockers in dispatch and interview rooms.
“If anyone would like to take a tour of the police station, you can contact the department and that will be set up,” Schneider said. “We can’t expect our safety services in this day and age to operate like this. They shouldn’t have to take evidence out at the same table they eat their lunch at. They can’t have multiple suspects in the police department at the same time because there’s no way to keep them separated.”
Schneider has remained candid about the plan amounting to a tax increase for those who work and live in Wellington.
“We fully understand the burden that puts on some families,” he said. “If you can’t afford it, we understand that. But if you can, we would ask you to strongly consider supporting Issue 34 as it moves forward. It’s important for the future of this community.”
A final information session is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in village council chambers.
The tax plan is projected to generate between $723,000 and $773,000 per year.
Annual revenue from individuals would drop $231,322 with gains coming from withholding ($828,442) and net business profit ($151,251).
Using a $50,000 annual salary as an example, a Wellington resident now pays $500 in annual local taxes to the village. If they happen to work in another municipality, the local tax rate there must also be paid.
Under the proposed plan, however, those residents would receive a total exemption from Wellington taxes so long as the rate in their work community is equal to or greater than 1.75 percent, according to documents released by the village.
If the tax rate in a resident’s work community is less than 1.75 percent, they would only pay Wellington the difference.
For example, someone making $50,000 a year with a work community rate of one percent would pay that community $500 and Wellington $375. That amounts to a yearly tax savings of $125 compared to paying a one percent rate in both communities.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.