Senior levies pass in every county but Lawrence

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 29, 2007

In 15 of Ohio’s counties, a senior levy was on the Nov. 6 ballot and in 14 of them it passed.

The only one where it didn’t pass was Lawrence County and it failed by 79 votes.

Marilyn Howard, the assistant executive director of the Ironton-Lawrence County Area Action Organization, said they were unhappy that the levy failed.

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“The need exists for increased elderly services and it’s hard to see people would not be a little more concerned about their neighbors and relatives,” she said. “I realize property taxes are not always the best way and I can understand property owners voting down levies.”

But, she said, it is hard to understand when it’s the people who have been the backbone of the community for so long.

“We were hoping there would have been a more positive attitude,” she said.

Sixty-four counties of Ohio’s 88 counties now have levies to help senior citizens as the money from state and federal sources for senior programs dry up.

The $650,000 Senior Citizens levy would have helped to provide food, transportation to medical facilities, and other social and educational opportunities to local seniors. The expanded program would have based assistance to the elderly on need rather than income limitations.

Supporters said many of Lawrence County’s 12,000 seniors could benefit from the levy if it had passed. Only 27 percent of the county’s residents are homeowners, who would be affected by the tax. The average homeowner in the county would have paid less than $27 more a year for the levy.

Howard said she and other supporters of the senior levy are hoping that the uncounted provisional votes might help the levy pass.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the provisional ballots,” she said. “We are hoping it will swing it around because it is definitely needed.”

But the biggest thing that Howard believes may have hurt the vote was that it was on the flip side of the ballot.

“It was the only thing on the back of the ballot,” she said. On the unofficial vote list, the senior levy had 900 under votes, meaning that the voter didn’t pick yes or no. That means that five percent of the 15,779 voters didn’t check the senior levy box.

“It could have been 800 against the levy, but I think many people just forgot to turn it over,” she said. “Or maybe that was 900 people who were undecided, I don’t know.”