Updated Thu, Nov 7, 2013 10:24 am
The village of Albany will have a police force for the moment, but the streets of Albany may be going dark due to voters’ choices Tuesday.
Neither a replacement police levy nor a current expenses levy aimed to keep the street lights on passed during the Tuesday election, and village officials say voter misunderstandings about use of the general fund may be to blame.
“At the rate we’re going we’re spending a little bit more than we have (in general fund income),” said Albany Mayor Tim Kirkendall. “We’ll be all right for two or three years, but we’re going to have to find a fix sometime.”
A five-year, 1.5-mill replacement levy for the Albany Police Department, specifically equipment and personnel, went down 63 votes to 60. The five-year, 1.25-mill additional levy for current expenses failed with 76 votes against and 45 votes in support, according to unofficial results from the Athens County Board of Elections.
“We will probably try that again (during the May election),” said Kirkendall. “We’re going to have to, if we want to have a police department.”
The 1.5-mill replacement levy for the police department would have brought in $18,245 per year, according to the Athens County Auditor’s Office. The current 1.5-mill levy expires at the end of the year, meaning the village will lose $17,823 in police department funding. By putting it on the ballot as a replacement levy, the village would have garnered about $400 in additional revenue if the levy had been approved.
The village also has a 0.5-mill levy for police protection that generates $5,941 per year, which expires at the end of 2015.
“The problem we’ve had is that people in Albany think that because we pay high water and sewer bills that we have lots of money,” said village Councilwoman Georganne Thomas. “They don’t understand that we can’t use those funds for anything other than those things.”
The 1.25-mill levy that would have been used to fund electricity to the street lights would have brought in $15,204, according to village fiscal officer Diana Warner.
“The general fund funds the street lighting, the problem is the general fund gets less and less money, so we will need to make cuts and that’s probably where we’ll have to cut,” Warner said.
The loss of money coming from the Local Government Fund provided by the state of Ohio has taken the air out of the village’s general fund, according to local officials.
“We’ve had town hall meetings and tried to get people to come to try to explain some of these things, but only five or six people will show up,” said Kirkendall.
Village Council will have to discuss what to do next and finalize plans, but for now, the village budget will take the effect of the losses. The public won’t have to go to meetings to find out the effect, officials said.
“When the lights go out, they’ll notice,” Thomas said.