Wayne trustee candidate suggests tax hike

Updated 3/6/2013 5:57 PM

Anna Marie Tigges, who is running for re-election as a Wayne village trustee, says the village must increase taxes to gain ground on items like road maintenance, staff salaries and police pensions.

Tigges acknowledges her stance might turn off some voters.

"There's a knee-jerk reaction. Nobody wants to pay more to any government," said Tigges, who notes that trustees pursued alternative sources of revenue, such as grants, and deferred major road reconstruction in favor of minor repairs.

"That's only going to get us so far," she added. "I don't think we can always be the recipient of great grants."

Other people on the April 9 ballot -- incumbents Howard Levine and Michael Anastasio, along with challengers Richard Ruminski and James Morris -- aren't so sure about raising property taxes. Voters will elect members to three, 4-year terms.

Scott Coryell, who also ran two years ago, was removed from the ballot because he filed to run for two conficting boards.

Trustees in spring 2010 put a tax increase question to voters, who rejected it by a vote of 454 to 202. The proposal aimed to increase the village's portion of the tax rate from 32 cents to 49 cents per $100 of assessed value, which translated to an increase of $230 a year for the owner of a $400,000 home.

The proposal was the first time trustees had asked for a tax rate increase since 1982.

Tigges said that after the tax vote failed in 2010, many residents she spoke with didn't think the increase was that much but didn't have information beforehand.

Anastasio said he would only consider an increase in the property tax rate as a "last resort."

He echoed that the village landed some $700,000 in grants in the last three years and had a $100,000 surplus the last budget year.

"We have no debt. The only challenges we have are police pensions and we're going to work on it," he said, noting residents already pay a lot in their overall property tax bill. "They don't care where it goes. They just know they're paying it. We have to be sensitive to that."

Levine also pointed out that trustees have decreased administrative costs by 10 percent the past three years and have sought out alternative revenue, such as vehicle stickers.

Levine said he'd "never say never to anything" but stressed that increasing taxes was not tops on his list. He said the 2010 referendum was aimed plugging revenue shortfalls and to address the need to fund police pensions.

Ruminski said he opposes any increase in the village's property tax rate.

"Right now, it's to the point that the residents in Wayne will feel like they're getting kicked if you raise taxes on them," he said.

Morris said he opposes raising taxes and vehicle stickers, and said trustees must take a closer look at police department spending.

"The (trustees) who are there quite frankly have run out of ideas," Morris said. "We've got to have some more changes in this town because nothing's getting done."

He suggested the village expand Wayne Days, its community festival, and capitalize on its history as a way to increase revenue.

Voters must sign off on a future ballot question if the village were to increase property tax rates. There is no proposal on the April 9 ballot or any pending village measures to put the question to voters.

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