YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The layoffs of several Mill Creek Park employees are having a wider impact, as the Mahoning County Board of Elections is receiving calls from angry people that want to repeal the property tax.
Voters approved a levy for the park last year, and campaign organizers said the levy would bring in enough money to sustain MetroParks’ operations.
The layoffs, which were announced last week, are part of an “internal restructuring,” according to park management.
Tom McCabe, deputy director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections, said the question as to whether a property tax levy can be repealed has everyone stumped.
“Ive been here 17 years, and I’ve yet to see an issue like this,” he said.
Two of those calling for a repeal are Eric Pickard and Judy Peyko. They are part of a group called Guardians of Mill Creek Park.
“There appears to be a great lack of transparency in this latest decision,” Pickard said.
The decision to lay off several employees, including those with decades of service to the park, was made by Park Director Aaron Young and approved by the board. He said the positions no longer fit the park’s plan for the future.
Since the move came after the new tax money was approved, Guardians of Mill Creek Park is trying to repeal the park’s funding levy. They have also asked for the removal of Young as executive director.
Peyko said Young has asked for public money but isn’t taking public opinion into account.
“They’re operating this park as if it’s a private company, and it’s not,” she said. “It’s a public park, and we are the voters. We are entitled to answers, and they’re not giving them to us.”
The group has circulated petitions asking for the removal of Young, but as for a referendum on the tax levy, McCabe said it is unknown whether it can be done.
“We don’t know if this is an issue that can be a referendum, but we have put a call into our prosecutor’s office. We are double checking, and we want to make sure the answer we give out is the correct answer,” he said.
The Board of Elections is also asking for assistance with the issue from the Secretary of State’s Office.