Two Sheriff's patrol positions and an assistant planner post may go unfilled thanks to a recent petition effort that put two tax increases on hold. The Summit County Council anticipated that the rate hikes would add about $1.6 million to the Municipal Services budget and must now back that money out of the budget.

Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said he will recommend that the three positions that were recently vacated remain unfilled.

Unfortunately, he said, the cuts will likely cause noticeable decreases in service levels.

"I think as we start looking at that budget and start making reductions, I think there's a likelihood response times and service levels won't be as good. But we'll do everything we can to maintain service levels," Jasper said.

Even with the reductions, Jasper said the fund will still be short, but he doesn't want to cut funding to road maintenance. If the County fails to keep up with road repairs, it will cost more in the long run.

"It's one thing to delay road maintenance for a year, and it's another to say we just won't budget for it for next few years," he said.

Jasper also has his eye on the Service Area #6 tax increase, which would affect specific unincorporated neighborhoods throughout Summit County. The increase may also be frozen, if petitioners are able to find the seven signatures needed to put that measure on the 2014 ballot, as well.

"In a day they can probably get seven signatures. So in my mind, in terms of what we're missing, we're about $1.


6 million short," he said.

Jasper said the county will run out of money in Service Area #6 this year if the petition is successful.

"We're not going to quit plowing the roads. So I don't know how we'll figure it out, but we're going to figure it out," he said.

Councilmember Claudia McMullin said she had thought because the County Council budgeted in 2011 for a surplus of $650,000 to $1 million for a cushion in case their conservatively projected revenues were off, the surplus would cover the Municipal Services and Service Area #6 fund deficits through 2012.

But she has since learned that because the surplus is in the General Fund, it cannot be used to pay for a deficit in the Municipal Services and Service Area #6 funds, she said.

"So we will likely have to make budget cuts," McMullin said.

The Summit County Council did not do the politically expedient thing in raising taxes during an election year, but they did it because it was the right thing to do, she added.

"We were fiscally responsible by increasing taxes in the Municipal Fund and the Service Area #6 fund to provide for a sustainable road maintenance program rather than differ the costs to future councils in future years, when the costs will be exponentially greater because of having to rebuild roads," McMullin said.