SALEM - City council will meet today and Thursday in special sessions regarding second and third readings on a levy to increase the income tax one half-percent, from one percent to 1.5 percent, after a first reading on Tuesday.
Council also heard the first reading on legislation directing the Columbiana County Board of Elections to place it on the Nov. 2 ballot for collection in January of 2011.
If passed, the money will be used for general operating expenses.
Two associated issues, resolutions to the Columbiana and Mahoning county auditors to certify tax valuation information in anticipation of levying the tax increase, were approved with 6-0 votes (Councilman Joe Radin resigned effective July 1).
Council will meet at 8:30 p.m. today and 8:45 p.m. Thursday.
Council members Mary Ann Dzuracky, Dennis Groves and Bret Apple requested the meetings.
There is an Aug. 4 deadline to get issues on the ballot.
Councilman Dave Nestic said it was a good time for residents "to pay attention to what's happening now" with pocketbook issues moving to the front.
"These things will have quite an impact on the city," Nestic said.
Councilman Dennis Groves replied to that noting they needed to get people "in here" because the money, if approved, would be coming out of the taxpayer's pockets. He said the issue was what "type of city do you want."
Money was the bottom line, he added.
In other business, an ordinance authorizing Service Safety Director Steve Andres to advertise for bids to complete Phase II of the East Pershing Street extension, including engineering costs, was approved.
It was passed with an emergency clause.
Andres learned the money for the Pershing Street project Phase II had just been obtained and will advertise for bids immediately. He said a roughed-in base will be applied and expected the road to be operational by Thanksgiving. The final asphalt will be rolled on in the spring.
The project, backed by $698,929 in an Ohio Public Works Commission zero-interest loan, is supplemented by $273,000 from the utilities department.
The extention will run all the way to Cunningham Road.
In other business, council passed a resolution to exclude the approval of East Liverpool, from which approval would otherwise be required, from the alternative method of apportionment of Local Government Fund and LGF revenue assistance money to be distributed in 2011; and a resolution approving the alternative method of apportioning the LGF money.
The issues have been routine annual matters before area governments.
Council also heard a first reading on the tax budget and set a public hearing for 6:30 p.m. July 20. It also heard a first reading on amending its tax credit ordinance, which if passed would discard it.
Also, Mayor Jerry Wolford, in response to rumors and petitions being circulated against the annexation of Quaker City Raceway property, explained there were things being misunderstood. He called them false rumors, misinformation and lies.
He said 100 acres, about 50 in Columbiana County and 50 in Mahoning County were at issue and "all the property owners were asked and all agreed" and signed the agreement and understood it.
Wolford said people had two chances to decline it and 100 percent of the signatures were favorable and no one was against it was involved. He explained it was approved by Columbiana County Commissioners and a challenge was defeated in county common pleas court on June 8.
Wolford said that "not one penny" of city money was spent, noting that drag strip owner Dan Swindell paid, and the city isn't obligated to purchase the land unless it obtains federal or state grants.
And, he added, the raceway itself is not included in the purchase if it is made.
In other business, Treasurer Robert A. Tullis advised council that income tax year-to-date receipts were 4.4 percent ahead of last year despite June receipts being down a "little over" $12,000 compared to 2009. He said the information is available on the city Web site: wwwcityofsalem.org.
Several guests also spoke including two about another ambulance company being added to the "emergency call" rotation, bringing the number to three.
David Moore of EMT said that when this occurred in the past one of the three companies was forced to drop out. His company hired employees who live in Salem, worked here and the owner purchased property here. He asked that the new company be held to the same standard.
But Deborah Lowery, owner of Life Fleet, the new company, thanked the city for allowing it into the rotation and said seven employees live in the city and she is looking a property on Lincoln Avenue "to blend into the community."
She added, "Sorry the other companies feel we're infringing."
Andres said before the meeting it was an equality issue and his hands were tied.
Also, Virginia Grilli advised council she collected nearly 600 signatures to place the bed and breakfast issue on the ballot in the wake of last week's planning commission rejection of the four ordinances enabling them.
The ordinances were referred to the rules and ordinance committee, Council President Mickey Cope Weaver said.
Also, there was across the board favorable comments and commendation regarding the Quaker City Weekend Cruise from council members and city officials.
Larry Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org