Rogers holds back

ROGERS – Village Council is backing away from plans to impose an income tax and install traffic cameras, at least for now.

Mayor Sharon Hebron said council indicated at the July 22 meeting it was placing the income tax proposal “on the back burner” while they reconsidered the decision to eliminate the village’s one-man police department.

Council voted in March to eliminate the police department in preparation for hiring a company to install and operate a traffic-camera system as a much cheaper and easier way to address the problem of motorists speeding through this crossroads community of 237 residents.

Hebron said that no longer appears to be an option because the village fiscal officer reported at the meeting the only two companies interested in providing the service declined to submit proposals by the bid deadline.

“They didn’t like the wording of our contract,” which is 20-30 pages long and “very specific,” Hebron said.

She said the contract was very detailed because the village is worried about being subjected to similar lawsuits filed in other communities that have traffic-camera systems.

Hebron also pointed out the Ohio House recently passed a bill banning communities from using traffic-camera systems, except mobile units in school zones during restricted hours. The bill was sent to the Ohio Senate, but the state legislature is currently in recess.

“We’re kind of going to put that (traffic camera issue) on the back burner and wait and see what happens with everything,” she said.

Hebron said they are taking the same approach with a 1 percent village income tax while council investigates whether there is enough money in the village’s $68,000 budget to afford returning to the practice of having a part-time police officer.

“They want to see if getting a police officer will slow things down in the village and (generate) some extra dollars” from traffic tickets, she said.

Hebron was asked how could the village afford to bring back a police officer when the reason they voted to eliminate the police department four months ago was due to lack of funds, and efforts to generate extra operating revenue in the form of an income tax and traffic camera are being put on hold.

“That’s a Catch-22 situation, for sure,” she said.

About 15 people attended the meeting, most of whom were there to express their opposition to the income tax.

“They’re just like everyone else. They don’t want to pay any more taxes,” Hebron said. “Everyone got to say their piece and we answered questions from them.”

In other action, council accepted the resignation of village street commissioner Keith Hebron, who is the mayor’s husband, due to a recent illness. His resignation was effective Aug. 1, and the mayor expects council will promote street department worker Homer Carnes to the part-time position at its May 12 meeting.