Windham - Last week, the Board of Elections (BOE) approved the Referendum Petition circulated by Windham Village Residents Bob Edwards, Jim Moore and Lloyd McPherson. The Referendum petition was filed in response to council’s passage of Ordinance 2012-50 that repealed the tax credit given to those who work outside of the village. The referendum needed 41 valid signatures from registered voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election (November 2010) in order to be approved by the BOE. The BOE approved the referendum petition claiming they had more than enough valid signatures on the petition, so it can now move forward. The approval leaves the village council with two options, rescind the tax credit repeal ordinance (2012-50) they voted on in December or certify the tax credit issue to be placed on the ballot in November.
According to a notice issued January 30, 2013 by the village, in the village residents’ water and sewer bills, council plans on rescinding Ordinance 2012-50 at their regularly scheduled council meeting on February 26, 2013 at 7pm in council chambers. Ordinance 2012-50 took away a .5% tax credit given to residents who worked outside of the village, however, if council rescinds the measure then the tax credit will remain as it had been prior to enacting Ordinance 2012-50 in December.
The vote on the original ordinance was taken at the December meeting after residents voiced their opinions against the measure. The vote resulted in a tie, with the Mayor Rob Donham voting to break the tie allowing the .5% tax credit to be repealed. If council does rescind the ordinance then there will be no need to place the issue on the November ballot.
Donham claims they needed to repeal the tax credit to balance the budget. State funding cuts to local municipalities and last fall’s .5% income tax levy failure have left the village looking for ways to cut $150,000 from their annual budget. While the mayor favors the tax credit repeal rather than making cuts to the police department, not all council members agreed with him. Some members of council believe they need to cut back on police personnel, due to the village’s decline in population over the last few years. Members in favor of reducing the police department staff, claim crime is down in the village from decreased population in the village, not because of police coverage. The mayor and the rest of council believe crime is down due to police staffing.
If council follows through with rescinding the tax credit repeal it will not appear on the November ballot, however residents can expect to see a return of last year’s .5% income tax levy on the ballot this May. If the tax levy passes the village will be on pace with the surrounding villages and have a tax rate of 2%. They currently have a 1.5% income tax rate.