Levy renewals pass in Upper, Proctorville

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Levy renewals in Upper Township and Proctorville passed Tuesday with large margins, but two new levies were rejected in Athalia by a slim margin.

If passed, the current Athalia expense levy would have added 2 mil, or 20 cents for each dollar of valuation for each $100 of valuation to property owners’ current tax rates.

It was narrowly defeated by five votes, with 51 ballots cast against the levy and 46 ballots cast in favor. According to the Lawrence County Auditor’s office, the levy would have raised $6,000 annually.

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It would have been used to pay off the village’s debt and to operate its 39 streetlights, which cost about $400 a month to operate, said Athalia mayor Gary Simpson. It also would have covered the cost of the village’s $200 annual contract with the RVFD.

The fire protection levy — a 1 mil tax — also failed by a very slim margin. It was defeated by eight votes, with 52 ballots cast against the levy and 44 cast in favor of the levy. It would have brought in approximately $3,000 annually for five years and would have gone directly to the fire department.

Simpson, who was reelected to his seventh term Tuesday night, said he could not blame residents for voting down two proposed levies for current expenses and fire protection. Simpson added he did not know how the village would stay afloat or if it would be able to continue to pay its fire contract with the Rome Volunteer Fire Department.

“We’ll just have to see where time takes us,” he said. “I’m not upset at all with the people because everyone had to vote the way they saw fit.”

Simpson added, “Times are hard to ask people for tax increases. They have had a belly full of it, myself included. I just wish they would have given us the chance to be able to help ourselves but that is their call.”

The tone was very different in Upper Township and Proctorville where levy renewals passed by large majorities.

In Proctorville, the current expense levy passed with 69.9 percent of voters, or 137 ballots cast in favor while 59 voters, representing 30.1 percent of cast ballots were in opposition, according to the unofficial results.

The fire levy passed with even higher numbers of voters supporting it. Seventy-five percent of voters, or 150 ballots, were counted in favor of the levy, 48 ballots were cast in opposition to the levy, representing 24 percent of votes cast.

Newly elected Proctorville Mayor Rick Dunfee called the results “great.”

“I think the people, the residents in town, know that they are good levies. Myself, when I went out campaigning, I actually put in my letter, ‘regardless of who you vote for, vote for the street and fire levies,’” Dunfee said. “It was pretty much an issue we all pushed for. We’ve had it for 10 years and it’s just a good levy.”

The current expense levy, a 2.5 mil levy, will bring in approximately $10,500 annually. The fire protection levy, a 1.5 mil levy, will bring in $5,680 per year. Both levies were renewed for five years.

Upper Township Volunteer Fire Department officials were equally delighted with election results, which showed a 19 percent majority in support of renewing the 1 mil levy for another five years. According to election results, 433 votes representing 59.89 percent of ballots cast were in favor of the levy renewal while, 290 ballots representing 40.11 percent of the vote were cast in opposition.

“I’m very happy,” said Fire Chief Jeff Scott. “I’m glad to see people came out to support us. Right now people aren’t happy about taxes and I think it says a lot — people coming out to support us. We’re just looking forward to giving our community good service,” he added.

The auditor’s office estimates the levy will bring in $23,155 annually in revenue for the fire department. The funds are used to operate and maintain its current equipment as well as for matching funds for grants, according to fire officials.