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Columbia City police levy returns to ballot

In November the voters of Columbia City may feel a sense of déjà vu when they look at their ballots.

Six months after city voters rejected a property tax levy to maintain police department service levels, residents will see the same levy on the November 8 ballot.

The May vote was close enough to warrant a new election, said Columbia City Mayor Cheryl Young. The levy, which would result in a tax increase of 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value, failed by 67 votes.

Young attributes the levy's defeat to its appearing on the same ballot as the county-wide Sheriff's Office funding levy, which failed by nearly 2,000 votes.

'[The loss] was by such a small margin, in our perception, we felt we needed to try one more time,' Young said. 'Having the sheriff's levy and our levy running at the same time … it caused confusion.'

Currently, the Columbia City Police Department has one full-time officer, Chief of Police Michael McGlothlin, and six part-time or volunteer officers, who police a town of little more than one square mile, with a population of about 2,000 residents.

The levy would not be used to hire more officers or bolster patrols, Young said. Without the levy, the city would likely have to cut positions and patrols, however.

Columbia City has the lowest property tax rate in the county. At $1.13 per $1,000 of assessed home value, it's also among the lowest in the state for cities of a comparable size.