Meet the Candidates nights were held to give Willowick residents the opportunity to hear from those running for Council offices and to learn more about the ballot issues. The videos from each of those nights are provided below for your review.
NOTE: The Ward 1 and Council-At-Large candidates who participated in the October 7 Meet the Candidates night did not have the opportunity to answer the three questions that were to be posed to all candidates running for office. Their answers may be reviewed here:
Ward 1: Steve Hemrich, Monica Koudela, Michael Vanni
Council-At-Large: Bob Patton
October 7, Meeting Room #1
Council at Large
October 8, Meeting Room #1
October 10, Meeting Room #2
Ballot Issue Information
Proposed 0.5% Income Tax Increase
The State of Ohio has drastically cut funding to municipalities across the state making it even tougher for cities like Willowick – those with no industrial and limited commercial tax base – to make ends meet.
City leaders have worked diligently to tightly manage city budgets to ensure that the vital services residents depend on – especially police, fire and EMS – are available when needed. To fund these services, the city has reduced its workforce in all areas, cut operational costs, and eliminated much-needed capital improvements and equipment purchases from the budget.
These measures have allowed the city to postpone an income tax increase for more than 20 years. However, the city’s current levies no longer generate enough revenue to cover expenses, preventing those critical capital improvements and the purchase of new ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles.
City leadership – the Mayor and City Council – have joined together to acknowledge the difficult but important decision to place a 0.5% income tax increase on the November 2019 ballot.
Where the funds will be directed
- Update aging police, fire and EMS equipment
- Make necessary road repairs
- Maintain basic city services
- Maintain city parks and recreation programs
- Maintain our neighborhoods and commercial areas
Facts to consider
- Retirement and investment income is exempt
- Alimony, disability and unemployment benefits are also exempt
- Residents who work outside of Willowick will continue to receive a credit of up to 2.19% on their income taxes
Frequently Asked Questions.
Why do we need a tax increase?
The State of Ohio has drastically reduced funding to municipalities and eliminated the estate tax, both of which have been important funding sources for communities across the state, especially those like ours with no industrial and a limited commercial tax base. While the city has aggressively lowered operating costs, delayed infrastructure improvements, and reduced workforce expenses, additional cuts cannot be made without drastically affecting service delivery.
How will the money be used?
If approved, the city will have the necessary funds to continue replacing aging EMS, fire, police, and service equipment. City services will be strengthened, and necessary road repairs will be scheduled. The city will also be able to better maintain city parks and recreation programs – amenities that make our community a great place to live.
How long has it been since the last income tax increase?
The last income tax increase was more than 20 years ago, and property tax rates have remained the same since 1995.
How will seniors and those dependent on alimony, disability and unemployment benefits be affected?
Social Security, pensions, investment earnings, alimony, disability and unemployment benefits are not subject to income taxes.
What is the impact on residents who work outside of Willowick?
Residents who work in other communities will continue to receive a credit of up to 2.19%. For example, residents earning $50,000 annually and working in communities with a 2.0% or lower income tax rate would pay an additional $250 a year (less than $21 a month).
What happens if the measure doesn’t pass?
Without the tax increase, the city will not have sufficient resources to maintain the current level of services. Replacing aging emergency and other city equipment will be postponed, and infrastructure improvements—including road repairs—will be delayed. It is also likely that additional staff cuts will need to be made.
Proposed Charter amendment asking residents to approve a change in the procedure for making a change to an existing Municipal Zoning Map.
It will appear on the ballot as follows:
REASON FOR AMENDMENT:
The City of Willowick desires to be able to act more quickly in order to take advantage of economic development opportunities. Part of the ability for the City of Willowick to become more competitive with development is to modify how the zoning map amendment approval process occurs when considering a change of use for a parcel.
- Application/proposal for change in existing Zoning Map is presented to Council.
- Council refers the request to the Planning Commission for report and recommendation.
- The Planning Commission conducts a public hearing.
- The Planning Commission votes on the proposal (to recommend or not recommend its approval) within 90 days of the referral.
- Planning Commission’s report and recommendation is returned to City Council for consideration and a vote, after 3 readings.
- The proposed Charter change is placed on the ballot for a vote of the electors, either at the next general election, or a special election.
Over the last 30 years, each time a zoning map amendment has been placed on the ballot, the voters have supported the change and passed the request.
PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENT’S EFFECT ON THE PROCESS:
- The proposed charter amendment will shorten the time frame for a property owner to receive a determination on its proposed application (reduction from approximately 5 -16 months to 4 – 7 months), including mandated public hearings and Council’s three readings on the proposal.
- The change in process will eliminate the need to place the proposed zoning map amendment on the ballot, but will still require a public hearing before the Planning Commission on any such proposal.
- If approved by Council, the zoning map amendment would be effective 30 days after approval.
The proposed Charter Amendment will reduce the map amendment process to 4-7 months. This encourages development and growth in the City, whereby increasing property values and interest in the City of Willowick. This process is similar to that of our surrounding communities, e.g. Willoughby and Eastlake.