New Carlisle seeks another income tax levy

New Carlisle already has a 1 percent income tax. The additional 0.5 percent income tax would generate about $500,000 for police protection and would fund a contract for four deputies with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, if approved. The city currently has two deputies, cut from four in January.

It will not impact residents who are retired.

More than 64 percent of voters overwhelmingly rejected a 0.5 percent income tax levy in November.

Mayor Lowell McGlothin said it’s “very critical” that voters approve the levy next month.

“At this point, we’re desperate as far as trying to get this passed so we can bring some deputies back,” McGlothin said.

McGlothin said the deputies will not return immediately, because it will take some time to collect the money and deputies will have to bid again for the jobs.

He also said some of the funds could be used to buy a new cruiser and other equipment for the deputies.

“If it doesn’t pass, then we’re still in the same hot water that we’re in now,” McGlothin said. “We’re paying for two at the moment (out of the general fund), but our budget, as you know, it is hurting big time.”

The levy will appear on the ballot months after city council approved its 2015 budget with an overall budget of $5.3 million and a general fund budget of $1.4 million. By year-end, however, the general fund is expected to have a little over $14,000 remaining because of a financial shortfall.

Because of the shortfall, officials made $190,000 in budget cuts from the police contract, achieved by eliminating two deputy positions.

Officials also cancelled plans to purchase a computer server for the finance department and repairs to the roof on the Smith Park Shelter House. The WestCat bus service was also eliminated.

However, the city’s public pool — which has been losing money every year since 2010 — will remain open through 2015 after a 5-2 vote.

McGlothin said more cuts may be needed if the levy fails.

Prior to changes to the budget, council members were told by then-City Manager Kim Jones that the city would have less than $200 remaining in the general fund by year-end if significant cuts were not made.

Council members said miscommunication with Jones led them to believe that cutting two deputies would be enough to avoid a potential financial shortfall.

Jones resigned March 9 after McGlothin presented her with a letter saying she would be placed on probation until July 1 because of a “disconnect” between council and city administration. Her last day is Wednesday.

Planning Director Randy Bridge will begin serving as interim city manager Thursday.

Councilman Ethan Reynolds voted against placing the tax on the ballot and is convinced it will fail again, due in part to the fallout of budget discussions that led community members to call for the immediate firing of at least two administrators.

“I don’t think it has a chance because I think people honestly see us … as spending money frivolously and being fiscally irresponsible because we’re keeping the pool open,” he said. “I think the citizens are going to say, ‘You guys need to get your stuff together before you look to take more of our money so that you can in their minds waste it.’ ”

Reynolds said after the “issue” with Jones, he doesn’t think residents trust council members, and that officials will have to work hard to get their trust back.

He said council should have cut the pool and needs to renegotiate a contract with its union that allows its workers to receive raises.

“I think if they would have voted to cut things instead of giving these things away, I think we would have been in a lot better situation,” Reynolds said.

New Carlisle resident Neal Bartlett said he is in favor of the levy because he wants more police protection.

“I’d like to see more policemen around the area. We’re down to two around here and our crime rate has gone up significantly in just the last three or four months,” Bartlett said.

Still, Bartlett said he thinks many residents will vote against it.

“This is a part of a poor area for people. We’ve got a lot of people who don’t have good paying jobs and they feel like they’re taxed to death. The schools are constantly asking for money, and it gets to be a situation where people vote no automatically anymore,” he said.

Vice Mayor Mike Lowrey said he thinks voters now understand the need for the tax.

“I think everybody’s realized the importance of that tax that will bring back the two police officers back to a level of four. Once we cut the two deputies, it really showed the importance to have four,” Lowrey said. “… I think a lot of people who were not sure how they wanted to vote for the tax … I think a lot of people have swayed toward voting yes, because they realize the importance of what this tax, this money is going to do.”

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