Levy renewal can continue Springfield's upward momentum

The City of Springfield seeks to pass a 10-year renewal of the 0.4 percent Earned Income Tax Levy that was passed in by a 2-to-1 margin in 2017. That five-and-a-half-year levy will expire in December 2022.

The levy renewal is up for a vote on the May 4 primary election ballot for city residents.

A renewal will allow the City to build on the progress made after the first measure was approved four years ago, Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck says.

“We’ve been able to purchase life-saving equipment, EMS medic units, a rescue engine and ladder truck for the Fire Rescue Division, add an additional six police officer positions to the Springfield Police Division, restore community outreach programs, and repave 37 neighborhood streets with another 26 planned this year and next,” he says.

Officials first sought the levy after the State of Ohio cut local government funding, propelling the City of Springfield into a budget crisis.

“Our community has confronted few tribulations more challenging than the one before us 15 years ago; Springfield faced a budget crisis not of its own making after the State of Ohio cut funding to municipalities, ultimately forcing our community to make do without more than $30 million of our state tax dollars since 2007,” Heck says. “For that reason, Springfield voters approved the Earned Income Tax Levy, resulting in the upward momentum we’re experiencing now.”

A 10-year renewal will give City officials time to plan ahead for next projects and infrastructure improvements, he says.

“We want to keep going. A 10-year levy approved now will facilitate careful and well-thought planning necessary for further investment in fire and public safety services, as well as additional infrastructure improvements,” Heck says. “We need to modernize our fire stations to accommodate an ever-diversifying workforce. We have to rebuild at least one outdated fire station and renovate the remainder – the average age of our fire stations is 56 years – the newest one built in 1981 – to give our firefighters the resources they need to do their part in keeping our community safe.”

The city also has to continue its commitment to public safety, he says.

“We must maintain the additional six police officer positions we have at the Springfield Police Division if we’re to be more successful in combating violent crime and tamping down the heroin epidemic,” Heck says. “The continuation of the Police Division’s community outreach efforts with programs like Bike Camp and Citizen Police Academy are fundamental.”

Finally, work must continue on the Neighborhood Street Paving Project, he says.

“This is where planning is key. Those residential streets in need of repaving or reconstruction most likely have water, sewer and gas infrastructure underground that need to be fixed as well,” Heck says. “We must carefully coordinate with utility companies and our Service Department to make those underground improvements before we can slate the roadway for repaving. All of this takes time, and a 10-year renewal will give our community the space it needs to make further strides in our neighborhood infrastructure.”

The levy on the May 4 ballot has gathered more than 50 endorsements from local organizations, Heck says, adding that, that type of coalition-building is what has made Springfield strong in the past and moving forward.

“In Springfield, we have proven time and again that we achieve great things when we all come to the table and work together for the betterment of our community,” Heck says. “I am proud of the progress we’ve made together, of the community we share, and of the work done to make possible those things that once seemed out-of-reach. I look forward to the future, a brighter future that this community will collectively build.”
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