Niles tax increase earmarked for safety services, improvements

Most of the money will be used for safety services

Police in Niles, Ohio

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – Niles city officials are strategically planning how they are going to spend the $2 million dollars that voters awarded them Tuesday with the passage or a .50 percent income tax increase.

Since Mayor Thomas Scarnecchia took office at the beginning of the year, he’s been dealing with trimming the city’s budget. Voters were asked in November for a 0.25 percent increase but it was voted down. After that, 12 employees, including firefighters and police officers, were laid off to save the city $600,000.

Scarnecchia said he knew this time around things would be different with voters and the levy would be approved.

“I didn’t think we would fail because they worked so hard on this. The people came around and were very, very receptive,” Scarnecchia said. “It’s a testament to the citizens of Niles that they have invested interest in our community, and they want to do what it necessary to bring our city back.”

About two-thirds of voters, a little more than 4,000 people, agreed to the increase.

City Auditor Giovanne Merlo said the levy is a tremendous win for the city and it’s now the “duty” of city leaders to spend the money properly. All funds raised from the tax increase will  be used to bring back jobs in the police and fire departments. Scarnecchia said there is no specific timeline for that to happen.

People living in the city will start paying 2 percent instead of 1.5 percent in July.

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