New proposed tax in Bellbrook would pay for police officer, firefighter

Voters in the city of Bellbrook will be considering a new tax that would, among other needs outlined by the city manager, pay for a new police officer and new firefighter.

Voters can learn more and ask questions at two upcoming meetings. The first is scheduled this week from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, then from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11. The meetings will be held in council chambers at the Bellbrook Administration Building, 15 E. Franklin St.

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The proposal that will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot is a five-year, 3-mill levy that would generate about $500,000 a year in new revenue for the city.

The levy would cost property owners approximately $105 a year for every $100,000 in property value, according to the city.

If voters approve the tax, the city plans to hire one full-time police officer and one full-time firefighter. That would enable the city to shift one police officer to serve as a full-time school resource officer at Bell Creek Intermediate and Stephen Bell Elementary schools, said City Manager Mark Schlagheck.

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Adding one full-time firefighter will eliminate the need for two vacant part-time positions, which have been difficult to fill, and would bring staffing levels up to two firefighters on duty around the clock, said Bellbrook Fire Chief Jim Neidhard.

The need for new revenue exists in-part because of state cuts that are impacting local communities, according to Schlagheck.

Data provided by the city indicates that the city of Bellbrook has lost approximately $250,000 a year from state cuts to the local government fund, cuts in the estate tax and reimbursements for other property taxes.

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Schlagheck said the city has been dipping into its reserve funds to make up the difference.

"We think we've beien very fiscally conservative over the years, but the time has come that we need to ask for this money," Schlagheck said.

A portion of the revenue generated from the new tax would also be put aside for improvements to the downtown area.

You can read more about the city's proposed tax on the city's website here.

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