Windham Village tax fails

Amanda Garrett

The income tax levy for Windham failed by an overwhelming margin, leaving officials wondering how they will deal with the deficit in the village finances.

The 175-56 failure makes it likely some type of cuts will be made in the police force, Village Councilman Robert W. Donham said.

“We’re down to a bare-bones staff on the administrative side,” he said. “The only thing left to cut is the police force.”

Windham currently has three full-time officers, Donham said. One officer works for the Portage County Drug Task Force, which leaves little time for patrolling.

“We basically have one officer per shift,” he said. “If an officer needs backup, he has to call for mutual aid from another force.”

Before making any cuts, the council members will look at the 2005 audit. The 2004 audit showed a deficit of around $30,000, Donham said.

Windham, which has the highest poverty rate in Portage County, hasn’t seen a levy pass in years, Village Councilwoman Jodi Minotti said.

“If you can’t put a piece of bread on your table, you’re not going to vote to increase your taxes,” she said. “I’m a senior citizen on a fixed income, and if I hadn’t started working again I would have had to vote no for the levy.”

The levy called for a 0.5 percent income tax increase along with an additional 0.5 percent credit for Windham residents who pay at least 1 percent municipal tax elsewhere.

Taxes would have increased from 1.5 to 2 percent for residents who live and work in Windham, Finance Committee Chairwoman Marian Garrett said in an earlier interview. However, if village residents work in another community that taxes them at a rate of 1 percent or higher, their taxes will remain at 1.5 percent.

Windham’s current income tax brings in about $400,000 per year, Garrett said. If the levy would have passed it would have added an additional $70,000 to the village coffers.

Minotti said she is confident the village will be able to make it through difficult times.

“We’ll get together and figure out something,” she said. “You know what they say: ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.'”

Contact public affairs reporter Amanda Garrett at [email protected].