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Avon Lake Council wants state surplus returned to local governments

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AVON LAKE — Council may urge the governor and General Assembly to return the state budget surplus to local governments, following a vote next month.

City Council held its first reading of a resolution Monday, which calls for Gov. John Kasich to invest the state’s $147 million surplus back into municipalities, rather than fund an income tax reduction.

Mayor Greg Zilka cited the approximately $2.7 million the city has lost in reduction of Local Government Funds over the past nine years, and roughly $1.9 million lost from the elimination of the state estate tax.

“I would recommend that Council seriously consider endorsing this resolution so we can join the number of (communities) signing on,” Zilka said.

Ohio repealed its estate tax in January 2013. Previously, it taxed estates from $338,333 to $500,000 at 6 percent, and estates valued above that at 7 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Zilka explained how a New York Times article focused on municipalities in need in states with budget surpluses. He said, on average, Avon Lake has lost $514,000 per year for nine years.

“The article in the New York Times featured the City of Lorain and they talk about their situation, the inability to keep police cars going, traffic lights failing, they’ve run out of funds to service them,” he said. “They’re in dire need. Fortunately we’re not in that situation, but we certainly could use another $500,000 a year to take care of some of our infrastructure.”

Ward 4 Councilman David Kos supported the measure, asking the potential funds to be earmarked.

“I think that one thing that I would hear back from the public was if this were to go through there’s a certain size of the public that’s automatically going to assume this is going to go for raises or for just for more hiring,” Kos said. “… I would like some sort of a declaration from the City Council and administration that if this does go through and the governor does grant this that this money’s earmarked to put right back into the community for infrastructure and capital purchases, to help our safety forces and our public works department.”

But Council at-large K.C. Zuber disagreed. He said he supports the governor’s proposal to put the money into the state’s general fund and return it to residents in the form of an income tax withholding reduction.

Council will vote Sept. 10 whether to approve the legislation. As a member of the Ohio Municipal League, Zilka said he plans to send a letter to the governor today in opposition of the state’s current proposal.

In other news

Council approved the purchase of two new police cruisers, waiving the second and third readings. The department will receive two Ford Explorers, totaling $58,384. The SUVs fall under a previously budgeted $60,000.

Zuber highlighted the importance of the city choosing Ford, as the company has long supported the city through tax revenue.

“It’s always good to see us buying Fords,” he said. “With the amount of money that Ford has provided by locating their company in Avon Lake, I think the City of Avon Lake received well in excess of $100 million in income tax from the Ford Motor Company by the number of years they’ve been here and this, I think, is a good time for us to thank Ford for all they’ve done for Avon Lake.”

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.
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