Kent eyes cuts if police levy fails

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

Kent will replace its 89-year old police facility even if a 0.25 percent income tax increase on the November ballot fails, but that doesn't mean there won't be price tag for residents.

In a Kent City Council work session Wednesday, City Manager Dave Ruller told council that without ballot approval, the city will be forced to take a hard look at what areas of public service can be cut to leverage a police facility.

Studies have found the current police facility to be in very poor condition and noncompliant with state regulations in multiple areas.

"The ballot vote is not about whether we're building a building or not. We have to build. The question still remains: How do you pay for it?" Ruller said.

The estimated costs to construct the new facility, which expands on the current Safety Administration Building site near South Water and Day streets, is about $17 million.

Ruller said the city expects to pay $1.2 million, including interest, annually over 25 years for the building.

The tax increase on the November ballot would raise Kent's income tax rate from 2 to 2.25 percent.

If the ballot measure fails, Ruller said the city has to figure out how to reduce it's annual budget by $1.2 million. Cutting directly from the city's capital fund would leave about $900,000 for improvement projects, cutting directly from the workforce would eliminate 16 to 20 positions, about one of every eight employees, he said, adding that neither options are very palatable.

Noting that nothing is yet on the chopping block, Ruller listed a sampling of programs, services and grants that would only make up a portion of cuts, including leaf collection, the adopt-a-spot program, special event service, the Tree City Bulletin, participation in the Drug Task Force, school crossing guards and more.

"I'm not trying to be alarmist, I'm just trying to explain the consequences of the vote that's going to the ballot," he said. "It isn't just about the police, because if a vote comes back 'no,' these are the conversations we as a community are going to have to have."

Kent voters rejected the income tax increase in November 2012.

To make the measure more palatable this November, council voted to let the tax increase expire when the facility is paid off, to not direct the increased revenue to any other projects and to raise the income tax credit from 2 to 2.25 percent for city residents working outside the city.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

Facebook: Kyle McDonald, Record-Courier

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  • Are you serious? The city just approved a 5% raise for Ruller (because $114,000 a year just isn't enough)and now they don't know how to pay for the new police station. And by the way, the Kent project was accomplished by Mr. Burbick, not Ruller. Let's give credit where credit is due people.

  • give a shout out to Major "CHAOS" Kelly, Sheriff Doaks right hand craczy guy, he seems to know how to save money! Hahaaaaaa.

  • You know people, since Kent is a college town, and the services they need is primarily due because of the students, you would think the college would contribute the funds needed to build this new complex. Let's face it, if the college didn't exist, you probably wouldn't need all the services. How about if the college gives back to the community. With the salaries they pay to the administration plus the president of the college, they appear to have quite a bit of money to throw away, especially since they are looking at record numbers of students now attending. Martin Fleming

  • Nothing like good ole blackmail. The threatened cuts mean nothing. When you dial 911 a cop will show up. That's all that matters.

  • The building that used to be Gold Circle has plenty of room and parking. Use that for a jail. Why do we have to have our very own jail. Ravenna has one that Portage county uses. You can't expect residents to pay twice as much as anyone else in the neighboring counties for our schools and a new jail too. What about all the money we are now taking in with the sales tax from all the new business downtown? Use that to fund a jail, IF you have to have one. We have the money build a "walking" bridge out the the old Crain avenue bridge? The city needs to reevaluate their priorities.

  • So now we are being threatened. Maybe it is time for a change in our type of City Government. It sounds to me like our City "Ruller" has become a dictator. Why can't the City "Ruller" and Councel understand that with the new school levy, those of us on fixed incomes just can't afford any more taxes for police stations or anything else. Why not utilize one of the empty buildings throughout the City? Heck, put the police in the new hotel. At $139.00 a night for a basic room I'm sure there will be plenty of space available.