In special elections today, 74 Ohio communities in 40 counties are considering levies to maintain public safety operations.
In all, 23 communities will consider requests for police services, 42 for fire and 40 for EMS/911 (some of issues address more than one safety services).
If passed, over 60% of today’s safety levies — 47 of 74 — would represent a tax increase, either by introducing a new levy or by increasing the amount of an existing one. Only 27 issues would renew and existing levy at current levels.
This statistic is unsurprising after two years in which communities have been coping with the loss of more than a billion dollars of revenue as the result of Kasich budget cuts. Yesterday, the Columbus Dispatch looked at the impact of state budget cuts on communities around Central Ohio and found that indeed many are responding by cutting firefighters (20 in Lancaster), police (16 in Marion) or raising taxes (by 1% on income in Gahanna). Cincinnati recently announced it will eliminate 80 fire and 189 police positions in the wake of an annual $22 million loss of state funding.
The current state budget proposes to eliminate another $1.4 billion in funding for Ohio communities, which will almost certainly lead to additional service cuts and levy requests in the months and years to come.