Hamilton council decides to pull street levy from May ballot

The city council recently decided against seeking a street-repair levy in May because Hamilton leaders need to give more information about the levy to residents before a vote.

Officials called for legislation that will remove a proposed 4.9-mill levy from the May 7 ballot.

Mayor Pat Moeller introduced the topic at Wednesday’s council meeting. He announced he had heard public sentiment that voters want more public meetings to discuss the levy, and that more voter education is needed.

He said people in particular want to hear more about the city’s proposal that the city’s 17 neighborhoods would be given significant input in helping decide which streets in their areas would be paved with levy funds.

For that reason, it was a good idea to push the levy back to a later date, he suggested. No alternate date for a vote was discussed.

The rest of council concurred with Moeller’s suggestion, agreeing to seek legislation removing the matter from ballots.

Moeller said the public meetings that have been organized by a group of Hamilton volunteers “have generated I think a lot of positive discussion.”

The mayor said many community leaders have told the volunteer committee they believe more public meetings are needed, as is more education for voters.

There’s also a “need for more structure about this neighborhood-group involvement process, which is, I think, really unique” for a levy request, Moeller said.

“With that feedback, I’d like to ask council to consider legislation to be prepared to push back that street levy so it is to a later date, beyond May of 2019,” he said.

Council member Kathleen Klink told Moeller, “I, too, have heard those kinds of comments and interest among our community members, saying, ‘Golly, you’re telling us a lot, but I need to know more. I have all these questions, and I clearly don’t understand how the piece will work where the citizens within neighborhoods will have a say.’”

She noted it’s already early January, “and early voting starts in April. I would favor giving our committee more time to really get out there and communicate with our neighborhoods and push this thing back.”

Council member Carla Fiehrer concurred, saying people have many questions. Given that, “I think the more time we give it, it’s just going to be more successful for us,” she said.

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