Residents attend Washingtonville meeting with income tax concerns

WASHINGTONVILLE — During Mondays’ meeting, with more than a dozen guests attending, council heard a second reading on imposing a 1 percent income tax.

It was approved with a 4-1 vote with one member abstaining.

Councilwomen Peggy Frank and Becky Vignon, Councilman Al Vignon and Council President Ron Stevens voted to approve the tax while Councilwoman Brenda Briden, as she did in the first reading, voted against it and Councilman James McFarland abstained.

When Briden voted against the first reading at the Nov. 6 meeting, she said it included “no breaks for taxes paid elsewhere.”

McFarland abstained because he felt 1 percent was “too high” noting the village was only asking for $18,000 annually through the 2.5-mill operational levy that failed on Nov. 7.

The levy, which was additional money, lost by 16 votes, 76-60 votes.

After the meeting, Stevens, the finance committee chairman, set a meeting for 6 p.m. Nov. 28 to discuss the possibility of lowering the tax amount.

Mayor Herman Frank said the 1 percent amount can be changed but whatever is approved at the third reading “is what goes.”

In October, Chuck Hawk, the marketing director for the Regional Income Tax Agency, made a presentation to council about implementing a 1 percent income tax.

He said it will generate $140,000 a year, but in the first year the village would collect about 30 to 40 percent of that.

Hawk explained that in the second year the village would see 60 percent and in the third year it would receive the full amount.

McFarland said he didn’t want to vote “yes” or “no” and decided to abstain but noted, “I do believe we need something.”

After the vote, Mayor Frank opened the meeting to discussion and two people had signed up to speak, Jim Santini, a non-resident businessman, and resident, Marty Limpose.

Santini had circulated a flyer requesting “residents and those that work in the village of Washingtonville” attend Monday’s meeting to help stop the tax.

Santini, who claimed he “may be the biggest taxpayer in the village” questioned how council “passed legislation before the community gets to talk to you.”

He said council didn’t “know how upset” that made people.

He said the tax was “going to raise a lot of money, and pointed out they couldn’t pass a levy that raises $18,000 and then turn around and ask for $140,000.

“What kind of a deficit do you need?” he asked, “you’re spending more money” adding, “you need a levy, you need taxes, what do you need? Does anyone know?”

Council remained silent and Frank responded, “If we had a deficit, the state would be in here.”

The village had a $37,000 operating budget and he wondered if that was the same in business.

Santini said, “We’re not talking about my business … I don’t tax anyone.”

Santini added they will ban an income tax forever with a ballot issue.

Councilwoman Frank said “we begged” for the levies and Mayor Frank explained, “We tried to pass a levy four times” and councilmembers knocked on doors.

Santini said, “We’re asking you what you need now, $18,000 or $166,000 ($140,000) …”

Frank said the village needs $37,000 to operate on.

“What happens when we have no money?” Frank asked.

Limpose said the village was already the second-highest taxed in Columbiana County and “a lot of people are on fixed incomes … groceries and health insurance goes up so they decide to make do.

“We’re taxed constantly for police,” he added, noting they pay for state, county, township and village police.

“”We’re getting taxed for what we don’t need,” he said, “we’re losing people — most are on a fixed income. We’re already paying more than any municipality.”

Councilwoman Vignon took exception to council members being labeled “children” and asked, “Do you think we’re excited about the tax?”

She noted both she and her husband work.

Councilman Vignon asked the guests, “How do we get money?”

Santini responded, “You really can’t run this like this … it’s a railroad job.”

Former Councilwoman Renee Jackson said council should have started with an amount smaller than the 1 percent.

“You start small,” she said, adding, “you should have known.”

During the discussion, Santini suggested the village publish a newsletter to get information out.