Mansfield Facing Cuts After Levy Fails

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Four days after voters rejected a tax levy, city leaders on Saturday had already begun talking about putting an issue on next spring's ballot.

By a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent, voters rejected a tax levy geared toward preserving city services. It would have generated $3 million to fund Mansfield's police, fire and street departments.

Mildred Dillan said she supported the issue but understood why others did not.

"I think most people were just kind of fatigued with the idea of voting for another levy," Dillan said.  "This is a city that's been very hard hit. We've lost an awful lot of our jobs. And people, when they get this levy - this tax - they can only do so much."

The 89-year-old Mansfield resident's daughter-in-law said she voted against the levy.

"And I just can't afford more taxes. And like (Dillan) said, you have to choose between food and gas for the car, or a levy," Pat Burggra said.

City officials said more cuts were on the way.

"Overall, we've reduced since 2009 24% of the workforce. And this is where we are today, looking at more," Mansfield Safety Service director Lori Cope said.

City Operations supervisor John Yoha was worried about services heading into winter.

"I've lived here all my life. They count on me and my people to keep things safe. And it's going to be extremely difficult," Yoha said.

Firefighters expressed fears as well because of previous workforce cuts.

"It's tough because you're worried you don't have enough guys to do the job safely," firefighter union president Dan Crow said. "And it's really disheartening because it's at a time right now when we're facing an arson crisis."

The fire department did receive some recent good news. Crow said a two-year federal grant would enable it to hire 15 firefighters. That would allow more than $500,000 to go back into the city's safety fund.

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