By AMY GAREIS
News-Herald Staff Writer
CADIZ – Two organizations will be lobbying for public support to pass operational levies on their behalf this fall.
The Harrison County Ohio State University Extension Office and county home are both placing measures on the Nov. 8 general election ballot seeking voters’ approval for funding their agencies.
Extension Levy Committee President Dr. Scott Pendleton and executive director Tim Tanner were on hand for Wednesday’s county commission meeting and said a lot of legwork will be occurring to spread the word about the 0.75-mill, five-year additional levy, particularly because of statute changes on the measure. Dr. Pendleton assured the latest levy was technically a replacement and no extra funds would be sought, but changes in the law provides that it be designated as an additional measure.
“Our levy is up in tax year 2011, so we thought we’d run it this fall and ask it be put on the ballot,” he said. “[State legislators] changed the statute under which extension levies occur. It is an additional levy, although technically it’s the same levy amount.”
If approved, the levy would go into effect in Calendar Year 2013 with collections starting in 2013. The five-year current levy expires in 2012 and the new proposed measure will generate roughly $190,000 annually under new valuations. The amount equals $0.075 per each $100 for a valuation for five years. Funding would provide revenue for the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service Fund for 4-H, agriculture and natural resources, home economics and economic development.
“It is the same levy, but by law it is going to be called additional,” Dr. Pendleton added. “For us, it’s going to be an educational issue, so you’ll see us out and about talking to the public about what we do and what our levy is for.”
He noted that under the law, the levy also cannot be classified as a renewal.
“There was a legal case that tested levies under the statute, such as libraries and extensions. It’s going to be a real educational issue on our part, which is why we’re starting now.”
Resident Joyce Klingler sought clarification on whether levy funds go back to OSU. Dr. Pendleton replied they did not; rather, the state and county split costs and only funds for employee retirement head to Columbus.
“The rest of it is spent here,” he added. “We’re basically splitting a paycheck. It’s a cooperation at the county and state level.”
Tanner added the county OSU Extension oversees programs for agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development and family and consumer sciences.
“We also gain access to community development expertise when needed,” he said.
Dr. Pendleton noted people use the extension’s services for various reasons. In his case, he contacts extension veterinarians as resources for his operations at the Cadiz Animal Clinic.
“We primarily think of it as a youth development program, but we also do beef schools, forestry and [other programs],” he said.
Following more discussion, commissioners passed a resolution supporting the extension’s plan, which must still be filed in the election office. Another code could be approved later when the agency officially places the measure on the ballot.
Meanwhile, the county home is looking to renew its 1.5-mill operational levy. Superintendent Joy Taggart, who did not attend the commission session, told the News-Herald the levy helps pay for general expenses at the facility.
“It will not start until 2013,” Taggart said. “[The current levy] runs out in 2012, but we always pay taxes a year behind. It’s for the 2012 tax year but is not collected until 2013.”
The renewal would generate $347,000 each year, while the home also receives funds from a second measure. A 1-mill operational levy passed two years ago generates about $190,000 after reduction factors.
“We have two levies: the 1- mill and the 1.5-mill. If [the 1.5-mill levy] would not pass this time, we can try two more times to pass it. Hopefully it is only time we will have it on the ballot,” Taggart continued. “The levies are really important to us.”
Operational costs include food, utilities and other needs for the 25 residents, as well as salaries for the 22 employees. Most recently, the home upgraded its phone system and a portion of the money covered those expenditures. Taggart noted that residents do not pay the same rates as more privatized facilities, so the levies make a difference in keeping the county home going. The home has been in existence since at least the Civil War era but its original structure burned down. The current site was erected in 1905 on the same foundation and has operated ever since.