Mentor voters will decide whether to continue the city’s two percent income tax for another five years.
Mentor City Council unanimously approved legislation at its regular meeting Tuesday night to place the income tax question on the March 6 primary election ballot. If Mentor voters approve the measure, the two percent income tax would be renewed through 2017.
Mentor City Council President Robert Shiner noted the city’s income tax is the lifeblood for public services.
Income tax collections account for 60 percent to 70 percent of the city’s annual operating budget, which pays for police and fire protection, emergency medical services, road and bridge maintenance, snow and ice control, building safety inspections, rental home inspections and other public services.
Mentor residents are granted a 100 percent tax credit of up to two percent for city tax they pay in other communities where they work.
City Council also approved legislation to authorize appropriations for Mentor’s proposed 2012 general fund budget.
Mentor’s general fund is expected to total $51,255,497 in 2012, according to city documents. Mentor City Manager Ken Filipiak said the city budget is about $1.5 million lower than last year’s city budget. Stronger than expected income tax collections means the city will not have to cut services despite state cuts to the local government fund.
In a recent memo to City Council members, Filipiak noted the year-to-date income tax collections have increased 9.3 percent compared to last year. Income tax collections for the month of November were higher than November 2010 by $940,000.
While most of the budget pays for city employees’ wages and benefits, about $4 million in city funds are expected to be appropriated for road improvements as well as repairs and improvement to city buildings. An additional $5 million in state and federal funds will pay for other capital improvement projects throughout the city next year.
Some of the projects in the 2012 Mentor projects include:
- $1.7 million in energy efficiency improvements, which will involve upgrading and replacing inefficient equipment in city buildings. The project is paid for with . Filipiak the energy improvements will pay for themselves over time.
- The Heisley Road widening will continue through 2013. The $6.7 million project is paid for mostly with federal money. However, the city will also have to spend about $2 million on the project, which will widen Heisley to four lanes between Mentor Avenue and Jackson Street.
- About $1.5 million has been set aside from the city's street fund for 2012's road repair program. The program focuses on repairs and repaving for side streets.
- The Route 306 resurfacing will continue in 2012 with most of the money coming from state funds.
- Engineering will begin on the new on 's property. However, construction will not begin on the basin until outside funding can be found for it.
- Improvements to the Center Street Detention Basin and near Newell Creek are also slated for 2012. All together, the city expects to spend about $350,000 on stormwater drainage improvements next year.
- About $225,000 will go to repairing city building roofs in 2010.
- The Mentor Police Department did not receive any new cruisers this year. Consequently, next year they are scheduled to get eight of them. Moreover, money has also tentatively been scheduled to put cameras in all police cruisers.