Clarifying issues Onaway is dealing with

I’m writing this letter in the hope of clarifying some of the issues regarding the police situation here in Onaway. This has been a recurring topic for the past few years. Our funding from property taxes and revenue sharing continues to drop every year. This year’s revenue is more than $80,000 lower than just five years ago. For the past few years we’ve used any excess from out water, sewer and street funds to offset some of our general fund deficit. By doing that, we have not been able to make any improvements for water, sewer or streets.

We are at the point where we have to consider what the majority of our taxpayers seem to be telling us. 1. Our recent survey showed only 30 percent in favor of paying more taxes for police protection. 2. In the past few years our citizens voted down the question of over-riding the Headlee Amendment two different times. You can see the same attitude in the communities around us. Taxpayers are telling the various governmental entities they are not willing, or able, to pay more taxes.

Our employees have not had a raise in five years, and we have tried to maintain the same utility rates for our residents. Those choices have helped, but they are only a small drop in the bucket. Now we are at the point where we have to look seriously at cutting our expenses. This obviously means a cut in our services.

We are currently looking into an agreement with the Presque Isle Sheriff’s Department that would insure a position for Jim Gibson who has served the city for 14 years, rather than putting him out of a job, This is not a perfect plan, but it is the best one considering our financial situation.

Bernie Schmeltzer

Onaway City Commissioner