By Kevin Kelley
In the Nov. 8 general election, Westlake voters are being asked to renew a 0.9-mill property tax for another five years to pay for salaries and other expenses of the city’s police and fire departments.
Issue 99 is a renewal, not a tax increase, city officials emphasize. The levy, which costs $2.30 a month for every $100,000 of property value, generates around $1.2 million each year. Funds generated by the levy provide approximately 10 percent of the budgets of the police and fire departments, according to Assistant Finance Director Bonnie Freeh.
The levy pays for the salaries of eight police officers and eight firefighters/paramedics.
As one might expect, the police chief and assistant fire chief advocate passage of the levy.
“It keeps us properly staffed,” police Chief Richard Walling told West Life.
Assistant Fire Chief Jim Hughes, currently the highest ranking official in the department, said the eight firefighters funded by the levy are important assets to the department.
Mayor Dennis Clough told West Life he hopes residents will consider the facts related to Issue 99 and vote in favor of it.
Because the levy, which has been in place since 1966, was established through an amendment to the city charter, a charter amendment is necessary to renew the tax. When last on the ballot in 2006, the levy passed by a 75 to 25 percent margin.
The city’s Communications Department produced a six-minute video informing residents about Issue 99. The mayor, police chief, assistant fire chief and Finance Director Prashant Shah appear in the video, which can be viewed on the city’s website – www.cityofwestlake.org – and the city’s community access cable TV channel.