Three tax levies on the ballot for Kent

Anna Duszkiewicz

Issues’ passage to add revenue for city, county department

The city of Kent has three tax levies on the ballot this November. Two of them are countywide issues and one is a Kent city issue. Below is a brief explanation of each.

Issue 9: Kent city renewal tax levy

Tax cost for a $100,000 house: $31.50 per year.

The 1.16-mill levy, which has been collected since 1974, covers various city operating expenses and is not restricted to a specific program or function.

David Coffee, director of city budget and finance, said Kent relies on the revenue the levy generates.

“It has been incorporated into the operating budget and is a revenue source we depend on,” he said.

If the levy does not pass, Coffee said the city will lose about $300,000 in annual revenue.

“That’s a significant cut,” he said. “It is possible that we would need to make some service-level reductions as well as staff reductions.”

Because this is a renewal levy, its passage will not result in additional taxes for homeowners.

Passing the levy will keep it in place for another five years and stabilize revenue sources so the city can maintain existing levels of service to the community, Coffee said.

Coffee said he understands voters are trying to cut back, but said the levy’s passage is important to serve the community.

“We’d like to think this is a worthwhile issue for their approval,” he said. “I’m very hopeful that the citizens will continue to renew this so that we can continue to provide them the services that they have today.”

Issue 10: Kent city replacement tax levy

Tax cost for a $100,000 house: $15.75 per year

The .5-mill levy, which has been renewed every five years for more than 30 years, will generate about $180,000 per year to be used for operations and improvements to city parks.

The issue is on the ballot as a continuing levy, which means its passage will keep it in place indefinitely.

If passed, homeowners will pay an additional $4.69 per year on a $100,000 home from what they paid before. The increase in the levy reflects higher property values, said John Idone, director of Kent parks and recreation.

He said failure of the levy would limit the department’s ability to improve the parks, including plans to extend the Portage County Hike and Bike Trail in 2013.

Idone said his department’s levies provide a stable source of funding that keeps it from relying on the city’s income tax funds for operations.

Kent residents have a long history of supporting the city’s parks, and Idone said he hopes they will continue to show their support.

Issue 4: Portage County Children’s Services renewal tax levy,/b>

Tax cost for a $100,000 house: $14.40 per year

The proposed .75-mill levy supports things such as parenting classes and a 24-hour hotline that handles calls about child abuse and neglect. Homeowners will not pay additional taxes if the levy passes.

Anita Herington, director of the Portage County Department of Job and Family Services, said the child welfare program was trimmed in the state budget, and it is “unbelievably vital” that the levy passes.

“If we do not have the levy money, we won’t have enough workers to do the investigations of child abuse and neglect,” Herington said. “I truly don’t know what we’ll do if this doesn’t pass.”

Herington said the levy will reappear on the ballot in May if it doesn’t pass Nov. 3.

“This is not fluff,” she said. “We must see to it that those who abuse children are punished. We’re seeing some of the worst cases of child abuse and neglect ever because of the pressures of the economic conditions. We can’t turn our backs on these children. That’s the bottom line.”

Contact public affairs reporter Anna Duszkiewicz at [email protected].