By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NORWOOD - A Saturday town hall meeting drew 15 residents, but only one who said he supported higher city taxes.
Surrounded by a handful of opponents at the Norwood Senior Center, Anthony Hooks promised to support the 2.5-mill police and fire levies that will appear on the May 6 ballot.
The owner of a $71,000 home said he'd prefer to pay another $110 a year in taxes rather than risk waiting 15 to 20 minutes before an ambulance or police cruiser came to his rescue.
"I will vote yes for the police and fire department levies," said Hooks, a Buxton Avenue resident.
"There's nothing more valuable than our safety. (The city's) not asking for the bank."
The city's response times are now three to five minutes.
City officials have said the city's police and fire departments will endure drastic cuts, including letting emergency workers go, if the levies are not approved.
The two tax proposals are expected to generate about $960,000 each.
The money would bolster what the police and fire departments now receive from the city's 8-mill general operating levy.
Levy opponents complained Saturday about police and fire operations, but said they can't afford higher taxes.
As city officials crow about Norwood becoming a draw for major developments, the critics said, their homes' market values are skyrocketing because of the developments. The same goes for their tax bills.
"I can't afford it. I don't know about the rest of you. (But) you just can't keep on taxing the property owners to death," said Russell Daniels, 67, of Leslie Avenue. A retiree, he relies on Social Security checks.
Councilman Keith Moore hosted the town hall meeting, which also addressed a conflict over eminent domain.
Joe Horney, a leader of Citizens Against Eminent Domain Abuse , likened the possibility of eminent domain being used to claim about 20 of 79 properties bounded by Interstate 71 and Edwards and Edmondson roads to theft.
Anderson Real Estate and Miller-Valentine Group need those hold-out properties to build Rookwood Exchange, a $125 million office, retail and residential development.
Council members could decide Tuesday whether to pursue an "urban renewal study," which could lead to eminent domain proceedings.
Tuesday's session begins at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers, 4645 Montgomery Road.
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