By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NORWOOD - At a Saturday town hall meeting, residents will be invited to address the 2.5-mill police and fire levies that will appear on the May ballot.
The tax proposals will generate about $960,000 each for the police and fire departments, which face severe cuts if the levies are not approved. Response times that are now three to five minutes could lengthen to 15 to 20 minutes, say administrators and officials.
"It's unfortunate that we've arrived at this situation," Police Capt. Michael Wheeler said. "Without the police levy, we would have to make drastic cuts. We'll lose manpower. If we lose manpower, it'll be a much longer wait."
Saturday's session will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Norwood Senior Center, 1810 Courtland Ave.
Councilman Keith Moore, who is organizing the meeting, expects residents to address this year's $16.6 million budget and proposed plans to develop a former General Motors Corp. parking lot and build Rookwood Exchange, an $125 million complex of offices, condos, apartments, shops, restaurants and a parking garage.
But he expects most of the dialogue to focus on the new levy proposals.
The owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $77 a year if one of the levies is approved, about $155 if both are.
Since 1987, the city has relied on an 8-mill levy for its general operating expenses. But the police and fire departments need additional support, Moore said.
This year's budget is $2 million shy of the 2002 spending plan. The city has been strapped with paying back street-improvement loans and financing an above-average number of retirements.
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