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Senior levy down by handful of votes

It was mind-numblingly close. Only 95 votes defeated a levy that would have maintained and expanded senior citizen services in the county.

Unofficial results have the 1-Mill levy losing 8,566 to 8,471, or by less than a half percent margin.

“It is hard,” Ralph Kline of the Ironton-Lawrence County CAO, said. “I don’t know what to say. I would be interested in what people were thinking, where the votes were.”

The new tax would have brought in $800,000 a year for five years for the county to keep current senior programs at full capacity and increase the capacity to add more clients.

The money would have gone toward funding the CAO’s Meals on Wheels program, the county’s two senior centers and medical transportation program. Those in charge of these programs fear local cutbacks were inevitable because state and federal dollars are being scaled back.

“Assuming everything stays as far as the levels and we don’t get any more surprises from other agencies, 25 percent to 30 percent will not be funded,” Kline said. “That will be dependent on if we can find any alternative sources. My guess right now we are running at a 25 percent loss.”

If the levy had passed, plans were to add senior centers in the Proctorville and Aid areas as well as take on more clients for the meals program. The CAO also wanted to set up a fund to pay for home modifications such as installing handicapped ramps.

Deciding how to distribute the levy’s funds had it passed would have been done by a 14-member advisory and oversight committee, charged with making sure the funds were used as they had been earmarked. On that committee was community activist Carol Allen.

“I am just crushed,” Allen said. “You keep thinking what little thing could we have done to make that slight difference. It will put a lot of hardships on a lot of seniors. We will have to be creative to meet those needs. I think we are all terribly disappointed. Hopefully we can take care of the needs of our seniors.”

This was the second time for a senior levy that was defeated four years ago by 79 votes. Kline was uncertain if there would be a third time to put the issue on the ballot.

“I think some of it will depend on what our voters are wanting us to do and our seniors are wanting us to do,” he said. “We are going to have to sit back and analyze things. We can’t continue as we are.”