Tax increase is now up to voters

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Ironton’s town meetings are over and now it’s up to the voters.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Ironton’s town meetings are over and now it’s up to the voters.

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City officials held the last town meeting regarding the three-year, 0.45-percent municipal income tax increase at Ohio University Southern Campus last night.

"The meetings have went real well," Mayor Bob Cleary said, "I think the word is getting out (to Ironton’s residents)."

To help spread the word, OUSC’s electronic media program will broadcast the meeting today and Thursday on Channel 2.

As with all of the meetings, the audience had a chance to anonymously write questions for the city officials to answer.

How the city currently spends money was one of the major questions posed to the city officials.

One individual asked the panel how many city departments received pay raises this year.

Council chairman Jim Tordiff explained through collective bargaining, city police, fire and municipal employees bargained a 2-percent increase in their pay. Tordiff said, "our employees realize the position we’re in and they helped out." The best way to show their support, he said, "was to reach into their wallets and deny themselves a raise they were otherwise entitled to receive."

Police coverage in this city was another topic – stemming from an audience question – addressed by the panel.

Cleary explained there are, on average, only two officers covering the city during any shift. Factoring in sick leave, days off from work and vacations, there are times officers are required to work 16-hour shifts because police contracts require a two-officer-per-shift minimum. The city, Cleary explained, is shelling out money for overtime pay -an amount that is costly to the city.

"We’ve given you a lot of bad news," Tordiff told the audience, "and it’s only fair that we offer you hope."

Tordiff said the city is working on recruiting businesses to bring jobs to Ironton, but bringing jobs takes time. The temporary municipal tax increase, officials hope, will buy the time needed to bring Ironton back to its financial feet.