Wellsville council wants to shift split of levy money

The split may go from 50/50 to 75/25

WELLSVILLE, Ohio (WYTV) – A local campaign promise has suddenly changed. Neighbors in Wellsville are upset money for fixing potholes could now get spent elsewhere.

Voters thought a new levy would be divided 50/50 between the police department and road paving projects, but that may not be the case.

A flyer back in November promoting the levy makes no mention of a 50/50 split of the money. Councilman John Morrow said that is what they initially campaigned for, but a financial crisis is forcing a change of plan.

“The fiscal emergency is getting worse and worse it seems,” Morrow said.

Wellsville council President Randy Allmon called for a first vote on the new split Tuesday. If divided evenly, both police and street paving would get $32,500 from the levy. With the new 75/25 split, police will receive around $48,000 and street paving will get around $16,000 more than last year.

“If we do the 75/25 percent split, the police income tax levy will have enough money to pay for one and half police officer’s yearly wage,” said Wellsville Fiscal Officer Hoi Wah Black.

Police overtime has been a big problem for Wellsville. The department spent about $650,000 last year. A quarter of that wasn’t covered by tax levies. Morrow said the new plan could help.

“To get our police deficits down and stop paying them from the general funds, that is going to get us out of fiscal emergency,” Morrow said.

A neighbor who didn’t want to be identified said he understands the need to spread the money around.

“The 50/50 thing would probably be cool because our police department does deserve money, too, but the roads definitely need fixed,” he said.

Only two of the six council members voted against shifting the money to police — Karen Dash and Rosie Gibson.

Dash said she felt it was a bait and switch tactic. Gibson says changing now isn’t fair to the voters.

Supporters say the change doesn’t have to be permanent.

“Council can appropriate that money at any time in any way it sees fit,” Morrow said.

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