2007-09-22 / News

Fire levies don't make ballot

By Scott Rawdon

THORNVILLE - Voters will not see three Thornville Fire Department levies on the November ballot because of a language error, said Thorn Township Trustee Tim Phipps. "It's not going to break our backs or anything," he said, but the township will have to wait until the March ballot to place the levies before voters.

Phipps said the firedepartment tried to save money (about $500, according to meeting minutes) by not having an attorney review the "verbiage" of the levy resolutions when they were submitted to the Perry County Board of Elections; the firedepartment opted to copy the language from Violet Township levy submissions. Unfortunately, said Phipps, the Ohio Secretary of State's officedidn't like how the firedepartment levy resolutions were written and sent them back to the township.

"Hindsight being 20:20," said Phipps, it may have been a better idea to run the levy language past an attorney, but realistically it only delays the vote a few months. An attorney will review the levy language before they are resubmitted by the Dec. 20 deadline for the March ballot.

Phipps said it's been nearly seven years since the firedepartment's three levies have been in front of voters.

Thorn Township Fiscal OfficerLinda Myer said the department has two continuing fire levies - one is 0.8 mills and the other is 1.2 mills - and a continuing EMS levy for one mill. The March vote will be for replacement levies, which, if approved, should bring in about $70,000 in additional annual revenue.

A letter from Perry County Board of Elections Director Janie DePinto to Myer explained that once the levy resolutions come to the Board of Elections, ballot language is composed and then sent to the Secretary of State's officefor approval. The information provided to the board of elections is reviewed, but it's not up to the board of elections to decide if the wording is correct; that's up to the Secretary of State.

DePinto said in the letter that she received an email from the Secretary of State's officeSept. 5, informing her that the resolutions for the levies sent to the board of elections did not meet the statutory requirements for placing a levy on the ballot. DePinto said she contacted the prosecutor's officefor resolutions containing the correct information, but the Secretary of State's officealready decided that the levies would not appear on the November ballot. She suggested that future levy resolutions should be reviewed by legal counsel.

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