NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Another meeting was held Monday night to discuss a proposed income tax levy increase for the city of Niles. If the levy doesn’t pass, campaign organizers say it could mean more layoffs of employees.
The city’s police and fire departments have already laid off six employees due to budget constraints.
Monday’s town hall meeting was held at the Niles High School auditorium, hosted by Niles Councilman at Large Ryan McNaughton.
The 0.5 percent income tax increase, which will be on the ballot March 15, is expected to raise $2 million extra for the city’s general fund, which supports the police and fire departments. Currently, the city is in fiscal emergency, facing a $1.5 million deficit by the end of the year.
One woman asked if eliminating the Niles dispatchers and contracting services to Trumbull 911 Dispatch would allow the city to bring back the laid off police and firemen. Dispatchers Union President Jill Montevideo said no — that the proposed changes in the way the dispatchers are to be paid have saved jobs.
“If you have a copy of the plan, it says that the dispatchers will save $144,000 in one year. That money that we actually saved prevented another fireman or another policeman from being laid off,” Montevideo said.
Councilman McNaughton said he supports the dispatchers, after talking with the police and firemen.
“The vast majority of our fine folks that work in police and fire say they do their jobs more effectively with dispatchers here in Niles,” he said.
Also on Monday, Niles City Council held a special meeting to vote on Niles Mayor Thomas Scarnecchia’s financial plan.
The plan is designed to make up for lost funding, if the levy isn’t approved by voters. Scarnecchia took office January 1 and inherited a plan previously approved by the commission, but was given time to develop his own plan.
That plan was sent to a third reading by Niles City Council after being approved 5-2. The revised plan is expected to be approved during another meeting on Tuesday.
The committee overseeing Niles’ financial situation — the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission — has rescheduled its meeting to March 17. It will meet two days after the primary election, when the income tax levy will be decided by voters.