Kent delaying levy for new police station

By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer Published:

The city of Kent's administration has recommended against seeking funding for a new police station from taxpayers on the May ballot, in part to avoid competition with Kent City Schools' levy request.

City Manager Dave Ruller told council Wednesday the city's administration felt putting a tax issue for the new facility on the same ballot as an 8.9-mill school levy request could prove daunting or confusing to voters.

"We would prefer not to go head-to-head on an issue like that with the school system," Ruller said.

He said if council members disagreed with the administration's recommendation, they would need to start discussion on a new proposal immediately. The city would need to meet a February deadline to get an issue on the May 7 ballot.

Council responded by taking no action.

Ruller said the administration and council expected to have "detailed discussions" in the next few months about what a new proposal, which would possibly be slated for the November ballot, would look like.

Kent voters rejected a .25 percent increase to the city's income tax in last November's election by a vote of 5,490 to 4,486 according to official results from the Portage County Board of Elections. The tax, which had no sunset provision, would have raised an estimated $1.3 million per year to replace the 88-year-old police building at the corner of Water Street and Haymaker Parkway.

Police officials estimated the cost of a new safety building at $18 million. Kent architecture firm David Sommers and Associates has reviewed the current facility and deemed it outdated and potentially unsafe, and in a condition where renovation would likely near $12 million without solving all of the building's problems.

Ruller said the administration also preferred avoiding the May ballot because city officials believe extra time for analysis of what led Kent residents to reject November's income tax proposal would be useful.

"The question is clearly, do we understand what we need to do to strengthen (the proposal) for another run at it or not?" Ruller said.

Councilman John Kuhar said residents who voted against the income tax increase cited "a lack of details" from the city and fact that the tax did not have an end date as key to their votes.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or tgallick@recordpub.com

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