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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio

Local Government

MV City Council, finance group agree 1/2% income tax increase best option

By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter

MOUNT VERNON — Members of City Council and the City Finance Group came away from a special council meeting Monday night united in their support of a ½ percent income tax increase as the best short-term way to address the city's dire financial situation. They also agreed that it is crucial to make sure residents know the importance of passing a tax increase in November.

“The details clearly demonstrate the need; nothing shown to us is pie-in-the-sky,” said Gordon Yance, finance group member and former president of First-Knox National Bank. “I'm almost appalled to see some of the information on the infrastructure. The local citizens have no idea.”

At its June 12 meeting, the finance group requested revenue amounts for three options:
Option 1: A ¼ percent income tax increase combined with a 5-mill property tax levy generates $2.9 million in 2018, rising to $3.2 million in 2022
Option 2: A ¼ percent income tax increase combined with a 6-mill property tax levy generates $3.1 million in 2018, rising to $3.46 million in 2022
Option 3: A ½ percent income tax increase generates $3.4 million in 2018, rising to $4 million in 2022

The idea behind the combined income tax increase and property tax options was to spread the burden across several demographic groups. Because the income tax is only on earned income, it adversely affects younger working families at a time they might be struggling. Seniors who have no earned income, but who use the majority of EMS services and share equally the fire/police and infrastructure services, would not pay the tax. Seniors would share the burden through a property tax.

Council President Bruce Hawkins said that his research shows that, by and large, combination school levies have failed. After discussing the options, both groups agreed the ½ percent increase is the option most likely to succeed with the voters.

“I think we would be naive to think the voters would go to vote and vote for two different issues that would take money out of their pocket,” said Councilman John Booth. Council members Nancy Vail and Janis Seavolt agreed.

“Currently, there is a large segment of our community that does not contribute to the upkeep of the city,” said Councilman Sam Barone. “That being said, I understand the risks of needing to choose something that will pass. I am fearful that if we fail in this endeavor, we're going to be in serious trouble come January.”

“It isn't about punishing or not punishing [a particular population demographic],” said Councilman John Francis. “It has to do with our decision with what we feel the voters will accept.”

Jeff Harris, president of the Area Development Foundation, after critiquing the current and previous councils for keeping the income tax flat since 1983 “to your own detriment” and accumulating so much deferred infrastructure maintenance, said that after looking at the numbers, option 3 is appropriate.

Marc Odenweller of the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County also supported option 3, saying that a definite financial need has been demonstrated that must be addressed quickly.

The money generated by a ½ percent tax increase will be divided three ways:
*40 percent for roads and bridges
*40 percent to the general fund, principally for police and fire
*20 percent to capital improvements (buildings/equipment)

“It's not going for speculative, it's going toward maintaining what we have and [for] needed services,” said Barone.

A ½ percent tax increase is not nearly enough to address the infrastructure issue the city is facing. In a 10-year capital improvement budget, the finance group projected $94 million worth of infrastructure needs. “We're in a catastrophic area right now if the voters don't put something on,” said Francis. “Nobody looks at infrastructure because they can't see it.”

Financial advisor Susan Sukys said that the goal of the finance group was to look at sustainable options longer term, not just next year, and that the group tried to bring creativity and other solutions to the table. “If you're looking at loss of manufacturing jobs, earned income can't be the sole [revenue source],” she said.

Vail and Barone agreed that, long-term, council has to find other ways to raise revenue. One revenue stream, a sales tax, ties in with the issue of being a charter city versus statutory city.

Law Director Rob Broeren will prepare legislation for Monday's council meeting approving a ½ percent income tax increase for November's ballot. Mayor Richard Mavis said a public hearing will be held between council's June and July meetings. He plans to ask council to pass the legislation as an emergency at the July 24 council meeting. Ballot language has to be submitted to the Knox County Board of Elections by Aug. 9.

KCH Hull Business Center opens in downtown Mount Vernon

By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor

MOUNT VERNON - Downtown will get a boost from the addition of 75 jobs relocated to the new Knox Community Hospital Hull Business Center at 133 S. Main Street.  The ribbon was cut on the center Tuesday after ten months of construction. The site used to house Y-Not Cycling which has moved to a new location on S. Main.

The completely renovated building will house a number of KCH support services such as billing, finance, and medical records and free up more space on the main KCH campus for additional and expanded clinical services. 

 KCH ribbon Hull

Cutting the ribbbon at the KCH Hull Business Center, L to R, CEO Bruce White, Ron Stull, Director of Building Services; Ian Watson, KCH Board President. 
 KP Photo by Marty Trese

The historic 14,000 square foot Hull building was purchased in 2016 with the support of Ariel Foundation and The Foundation for Knox Community Hospital and renovations began last August.

During the renovation process, several old relics and treasures were also unearthed including old newspapers from the mid-1800's, advertisements, glass bottles and other artifacts. These items have been reserved and are displayed throughout the building artwork and other decorative settings.  

Hull artifact

One of the old advertisements from the mid-1800's found during the renovation - KP Photo  

KCH CEO Bruce White shared with KnoxPages.com the significance of moving the support employees downtown saying, "If we ca be a part of the revitalization of our downtown that helps everybody in the town and the community." 

To hear more of White's comments listen to this KP Radio mini-podcast on Soundcloud.

Hull exterior1

St. Paul's celebrating 200 years

MOUNT VERNON - St. Paul's Episcopal Church on East High Street is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its founding. Church member Cecelia McClelland said, “We’re collecting things in 200 to celebrate the 200th anniversary,” McClelland said. “Like medicine [supplies] to send to Belize.”

The bicentennial celebration continues through November. The Diocese of Ohio was established by the 12th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in 1817. Ohio was the first diocese established beyond the original 13 colonies. The Episcopal Church in Ohio split into two dioceses in 1875. The 48 counties in northern Ohio retained the name The Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, and the 40 counties in Southern Ohio took the name The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio. The Diocese of Ohio currently has 86 parishes and 16,000 members.

St Pauls ext

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Mount Vernon - KP Photo

 

St. Paul’s Mount Vernon was organized in 1829 and has over 100 parishioners. They welcome everyone to join them in worship and participate in their outreach efforts. The people of St. Paul’s share long term service with Interchurch Social Services, Winter Sanctuary Emergency Homeless Shelters and offer Sunday Suppers - free, hot meals each week. To grow in service to their communities and to celebrate the Diocese of Ohio’s 200 years, parishes and communicants are establishing “200s.”

Each congregation has a Bicentennial Missioner who is helping to ask “What’s your 200?” as a way of identifying and taking on new or increased disciplines of prayer, service, giving, advocating and inviting. St. Paul’s and the Diocese of Ohio reflect on their past and celebrate their present; they keep their eyes on the future. Together, they are “committing to a new century serving God’s mission.”

DEF Youth Showcase performers sought

 

MOUNT VERNON - The 2017 Dan Emmett Festival Youth Showcase will have an informational meeting on Tuesday, July 11 at 5 p.m. at The Place at the Woodward, 101 S. Main Street. All interested school age youth are invited to attend the meeting and sign up to perform during the festival on Thursday, August 10 at noon and Saturday, August 12 at 1 p.m.
Organizer Susan Kahrl says, "We are looking for singer, dancers, instruentalists, and other entertainers to shine their talents on stage."
For more information contact Kahrl at [email protected] or 740-397-9383.

 

 

Highway Patrol joins American Red Cross, police and fire for annual blood donation challenge

MOUNT GILEAD – The Ohio State Highway Patrol is teaming up with the American Red Cross, police officers and firefighters this July for the 22nd annual Guns-N-Hoses campaign in Central Ohio. In the spirit of saving lives, troopers will give blood themselves, and they encourage the public to join them in a friendly competition to see which group can donate the most – police or fire.

Motor vehicle crashes and traumatic injuries increase during the summer months and the need for blood donations often exceeds the supply. Each American Red Cross blood drive during the summer sees about two fewer donors. This comes at a time when donations are critical, resulting in as much as 100,000 fewer donations compared to other months, according to the American Red Cross.

Troopers, as law enforcement officers and first responders see first-hand what the gift of donating blood can do for those affected in traffic crashes and other emergency situations. More than 12,000 pints of blood are expected to be donated during Guns-N-Hoses, and more than 1,200 pints come from fire and police officers alone. The rest are from those who support everyday heroes and want to save lives. The Red Cross and the Ohio State Highway Patrol encourage you to help make this campaign a success, and to give someone the gift of life this summer.

“Guns-N-Hoses may be a competition between police and fire, but in the end, the patients who benefit from these blood donations are the ones who really win,” said Lt. G. S. Grewal, Commander of the Mount Gilead Post. “The Patrol is grateful for this opportunity to support the Red Cross and help save lives.”

“First responders help keep our community safe every day,” said Rodney Wilson, communications manager of the Red Cross Central Ohio Blood Services Region. “When you come to donate blood this July, you can support them and help patients in need.”

To schedule an appointment to give, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. Those who donate blood during the Guns-N-Hoses campaign can receive gifts and prizes, including:

- Columbus Zoo and Aquarium buy one get one free entry coupon

- Enter to win a weekly drawing for four passes to Zoombezi Bay

- Voucher to purchase deeply discounted tickets to any Cedar Fair park, including Cedar Point or Kings Island

- Voucher for $5 off coupon for Roosters

The annual Guns-N-Hoses campaign began in 1996 as a friendly competition between firefighters and police officers to see who could bring in the most blood donations. This campaign is scheduled during the critical summer trauma season when the demand for blood often exceeds the supply.

Counties participating in this year’s campaign include: Athens, Champaign, Coshocton, Crawford, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Guernsey, Hardin, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Knox, Licking, Logan, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pickaway, Richland, Ross, Tuscarawas, Union and Vinton.

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