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Cuts possible to Van Wert police and fire

Voters rejected a city income tax increase in Tuesday's election.

Posted: Nov. 8, 2017 8:40 PM
Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 11:28 PM

VAN WERT, Ohio (WFFT) - People in Van Wert could soon see fewer police officers and firefighters on the streets.

Voters rejected a city income tax increase in Tuesday's election, with 938 votes in favor and 1143 against the increase.

The same tax was turned down in May by 49 votes.

Van Wert Mayor Jerry Mazur said the city is going on a hiring freeze January 1.

However, many residents said they city can find other ways to save money.

"I hate to see the services that are necessary be cut, but remember the word necessary," said Larry Houston, who has lived in Van Wert for nearly 70 years.

He's one of the 1143 people who voted against the income tax hike.

"They're conservative, they're on limited incomes. They just don't have the money to continually let more out than what comes in," said Houston.

Since the tax increase failed, Mazur said the city is going to spend a lot less, including not filling positions when people decide to no longer work for the city.

"We're going to cut down on our patrols in the police department. We're going to loose some focus on the drug epidemic we have in Van Wert," said Mazur.

One of the biggest areas hit will be the fire department.

There are 19 full-time firefighters, but that number will go down as people leave and a hiring freeze is in place.

Fire Chief Jon Jones said they will be forced to change how they respond.

"When we start reducing the manpower on our runs, less people have to do more things," Jones said.

This is the second time the tax increase failed this year.

Houston said he will continue to vote no on more taxes.

"As far as Van Wert's concerned, I'm always surprised when any tax passes. It always surprises me," he said.

Houston also added he doesn't believe these cuts will become reality because of the people who live in Van Wert.

"They're not going to stop services to these elderly people with ambulances and caring for them in the emergency room," Houston said.

Mazur said he plans to continue to put the city income tax on the ballot, possibly as early as in May.

The Van Wert County Board of Elections said this election had a 38 percent voter turn out, which is typical for an off year election.

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