2009-05-09 / News

Two local issues approved

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE AREA - Kirkersville Mayor Terry Ashcraft is very relieved that voters finally approved the village's three-mill operating levy by an unofficial 80-48 vote.

"It means we'll have some money to operate with," he said. "I was very concerned. People just don't have money now," said Ashcraft. He attributes some of the levy's success this time to eliminating "reckless spending" in the village, including not replacing some positions on the police force and spending substantially less to operate the sewer plant.

Ashcraft said there are still a few areas where the village needs to reduce spending. It will be a year before the village sees any of the levy income, but he believes the village should be OK until the money is available. "We're getting better," said Ashcraft.

The Village of Buckeye Lake, however, didn't share in Kirkersville's fortune as Buckeye Lake's one-mill operating levy operating intended to pay for the village's streetlights failed by a 91-82 vote.

Buckeye Lake Mayor Frank Foster said it looks like the village will be forced to turn off its streetlights in the near future. "Apparently there is not a strong desire to keep them on," he said. Foster said it is definitely a difficult financial time for everyone, but he fears crime will increase with less lighting. Recently, the village turned to a small reserve for funds to keep the lights on after voters rejected a five mill operating levy last November. Those funds have nearly been exhausted, so the streets will be going dark soon.

"As a village government we will have to regroup," said Foster.

Hebron voters approved an increase in the village income tax from 1.0 percent to 1.5 percent. by a 134-115 tally. Hebron's credit for the income tax Hebron residents pass to other cities and village will be increased to 1.5 percent. Thanks to the 100 percent credit, only about five percent of Hebron residents pay the village's income tax. Most of its revenue is generated from nonresidents who work in the village but live elsewhere.

"It's just a good thing," said Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason, who added he's grateful to everyone who supported the tax issue. He said its approval means that village residents will continue to receive the quality services they're accustomed to receiving. Also, Mason foresees no lay-offs of village employees since the issue passed. The tax revenue will help the village address overdue projects like street paving (although he doubted all the streets could be paved, even with the tax).

Mason assured residents that expenditures will be closely scrutinized. "We take this very seriously," he said.

In Fairfield County, Thurston voters turned down a 2.5 mill replacement fire levy by a 19-16 vote. The levy had generated about $13,000 a year for the Thurston/Walnut Township Fire Department. Fire department operations will not be affected since Walnut Township has been providing the vast majority of its funding.

On the other hand, the 0.5- mill five-year Fairfield County roads levy received strong support from voters. It was renewed by a 9,033 - 3,956 margin. The levy is exclusively for work on 362 miles of roads, 341 bridges (including bridges on county and township roads and some in municipalities and villages), and over 2776 culverts. Levy funds also allow for township culvert work. Approval did not increase taxes.

The only county-wide issue in Licking County was a one mill additional levy for C-TEC. Voters rejected the new tax for the county vocational school by a 13,151 to 12,616 margin.

There were no lake area or county-wide issues in Perry County.

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