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Athalia voters pass 2 levies

ATHALIA — The next five years are looking bright for the Village of Athalia thanks to a pair of levies adopted by voters during Tuesday’s election.

Two new five-year levies — a 1-mill fire levy that will generate $2,930 annually and a 2-mill current expense (general operating) levy that will generate $5,860 annually were adopted 33-20 and 33-19, respectively.

“I know it’s a hard time to ask the residents of Athalia for a levy,” Gary Simpson, mayor of Athalia, said. “We’ll use this money to keep our street lights on and provide proper fire protection.”

Lawrence County Chief Deputy Auditor Chris Kline said as of Jan. 1, 2013, the village’s general fund was $10,816.45 in the red. Kline said there is no budget for 2014 on file in the auditor’s office.

Paying the $450 a month utility bill for the village’s 39 streetlights was one of Simpson’s major concerns. He said passage of the 2-mill current expense levy would ensure streetlights stay illuminated.

“We will still have our streetlights,” he said. “The streetlights are very effective as theft deterrent. The voters of Athalia have helped themselves with this one.”

Currently Athalia has a contract with Rome Fire Department so that every resident in the village has fire protection. With the levy now in place, the fire department can apply for grants to help Athalia get much-needed fire hydrants, Simpson said.

“The fire department can’t ask for grants without a levy in place to guarantee funds,” Simpson said. “Rome Fire Department will continue to provide service without the levy, but homeowners will be billed for it. The levy also provides insurance in the event of firefighter injury or property damage.”

Simpson said without the levies the village would have had to cut something from its budget and flyers were mailed to all residents before the election explaining the levies and why they’re needed.

“We sent flyers to every resident explaining each levy and why we need them,” Simpson said. “I am just pleased they both passed. It may not have been by much, but I don’t care how much.”

Simpson, who is serving his seventh year as mayor, said none of the money generated from the current expense levy would be used for raises.