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Floodwall levy needs approval of voters

When the ballots were counted last November, many people who live in the city of Ironton found themselves looking at the election results in disbelief.

How could the voters have rejected the renewal of the city's floodwall tax levy? Did they suddenly forget the devastation that a flood could bring?

Of all of the things and people on the ballot, perhaps no other item was more important than the renewal of the floodwall levy - particularly for the people who live in the low-lying areas of the city.

For hundreds of city residents, their daily commute to work takes them through the massive Ironton floodgates. Each pass by serves as a brief reminder of why the area needs protection from the unpredictability of the massive floodwaters that arrive when the Ohio River spills over its banks.

For years the citizens of Ironton paid a small tax to help the city pay for maintenance and operation of the floodwall system of levees, pumps and gates.

This past November, however, voters rejected the levy. Apparently, before the election, few people considered the failure of the levy to be a possibility. It was a shoe-in, or so they thought. The city had two opportunities prior to the November 2004 election to place the levy on the ballot. Both opportunities were allowed to pass.

Now, in an effort to somehow right the perceived "wrong" of the voters, the city is considering adding a small fee to temporarily offset the loss of the funds due to the tax levy's defeat.

As much as we wish the voters had approved the levy, having the city go behind the voters and "fix" the situation isn't the right answer.

The city needs the floodwall system that has averted millions in damages and the city needs the extra funding that the floodwall levy brought in each year. No questions there.

No doubt about it, the city should work hard to lobby the registered voters for support and put the matter back on the ballot at the next opportunity.

In the meantime, the city should listen to its voters and deal with the lack of funds. For now, the citizens have spoken, even if we don't like what they said.