Flood levy passes by big margin

Published 12:51 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The tactic used by Ironton city officials and others to conjure support for the flood levy was simple: talk about it early and often.

“One thing is for sure,” Rich Blankenship, Ironton mayor, who drove to poll locations after they closed and collected voter totals, said. “When the polls closed on Tuesday I knew for sure we had done everything we could to encourage voters to pass the levy. If it failed it wasn’t for the lack of trying.”

The levy passed by a margin of 1,065 votes, with 1,842 voting “for” and 777 voting “against.”

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Special meetings, letters, emails and many other forms of communication were used to garner support for the five-year, 2-mill levy to replace the city’s current 1-mill levy. A measure Kristen Martin, Ironton finance director, said the Lawrence County auditor’s office certified would generate $265,500 a year,nearly twice the amount generated by the current 1-mill levy, which expires at the end of tax year 2015.

The efforts seemed to work as groups such as Ironton aLive and agencies such as the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization expressed public support for the levy.

“I appreciate the citizens recognizing the significance of this levy,” Blankenship said. “This will go a long way toward maintaining and operating our floodwall system. I would also like to thank the individuals, civic groups and organizations that worked on behalf of the levy.”

Blankenship was a staunch advocate for the levy since council voted last July to place it on Tuesday’s ballot. He said the floodwall’s age, the lack of manpower and funds to perform much-needed maintenance and the annual inspection by the Corps of Engineers all contributed to the sense of urgency associated with the levy.

“For more than 70 years the city has been able to maintain an acceptable rating, but like everything else, it is not cheap,” he said. “The revenue generated by the citizens of Ironton makes it possible to maintain the floodwall system, which protects our homes, our businesses, schools and churches.”

Revenue generated by the levy goes into an enterprise fund that can only be used for flood protection.