Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Villa Hills, Taylor Mill: Taxes to fix, replace city streets rejected

By Cindy Schroeder
Enquirer staff writer

Voters in two Kenton County cities - Taylor Mill and Villa Hills - rejected special road taxes Tuesday for the repair and replacement of city streets.

With few businesses, the two cities have limited options for raising money for street repairs and maintenance.

In Taylor Mill, voters rejected a proposed tax of $1 per $1,000 assessed property value by a vote of 2,024 to 1,169. The city of 6,913 may have to look into cutting services, finding other revenue sources for road improvements, or assessing individual property owners, Mayor Mark Kreimborg said.

"We can continue to patch and pave streets - but that's only really a Band-Aid effect,'' Kreimborg said. "We have 112 streets, not counting the 81/2 miles of roads the county recently turned back to us (for maintenance and repair).''

Kreimborg said a "Vote No on the Road Tax'' postcard sent to city households by Taylor Mill Commissioner Sara Voelker just days before the election helped defeat the road tax.

"Probably the most disappointing part of this is we started discussing (a possible road tax) last spring,'' Kreimborg said. "(Voelker) never showed any opposition at all, and she wasn't there for the vote.''

Voelker had said earlier that she missed the commission's vote on the road tax because of illness and had subsequently expressed her opposition. She said last week that she was upset by a city mailing that made it sound as if she joined the rest of the city officials in supporting the road tax.

Even with the $335,000 a year that the Taylor Mill road tax was projected to raise, it was still short of the $792,000 a year that the city engineer estimated routine street maintenance would cost over 20 years with no major rebuilding, city officials said. Taylor Mill gets about $100,000 a year from the state for city roads.

The Villa Hills road tax lost by a vote of 2,404 to 1,868. Officials in the city of 7,948 had proposed a tax of 85 cents per $1,000 assessed property value.

"I think the voters are just saying that this isn't the right way to tackle the road problem,'' said Villa Hills Mayor Mike Sadouskas. "The voters felt a 43 percent increase in the property tax wasn't the way to do it.''

Sadouskas said the City Council that takes office in January will have to decide how to deal with aging streets. The city's finance committee had proposed several options, including assessing individual property owners and increasing the insurance premium tax. If voters had approved the Villa Hills road tax, city officials had said, they would repeal the annual license fee tax of $8.50 per car - which generates about $45,000 a year.

Although some Villa Hills residents questioned the 43 percent increase, Sadouskas said the city didn't want to return to voters in a year or two because the tax didn't raise enough to put a dent in Villa Hills' road needs. Two city engineers have said it will cost about $700,000 a year during the next 10 years to do the needed street replacement work - more than double with the city spends now.

"I don't think we can just walk away from it,'' Sadouskas said of the city's road needs. "I'm going to talk to the incoming council people and ask them to think about (some possible solutions).''

Four challengers, including former councilman Tim Sogar, will join incumbents Tim Reese and Julie Schuler on the Villa Hills City Council next year. That race was uncontested.

In Kenton County, the cities of Fort Mitchell and Park Hills have had a road tax for years.


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