POMEROY — Two issues being voted on in Tuesday’s election could well determine the level of community service to those least able to take care of themselves — senior citizens and residents with mental handicaps and developmental disabilities.
The Meigs County Council on Aging is seeking a new five-year .5 mill levy to be used to maintain the level of services now being provided by the agency to the elderly. That means it will cost the taxpayer five cents for each one hundred dollars of property valuation commencing in 2013, first due in 2014.
The Carleton School-Meigs Industries Workshop is asking for a renewal of its current two-mill levy for the purpose of maintenance, capital construction and operation of the school and the workshop. The cost to a taxpayer is 20 cents for each one hundred dollars of valuation.
Beth Shaver, executive director of the Meigs Council on Aging program, in stressing the need for the additional levy, reported that many elderly residents depend on services from that agency if they are to remain in their own homes instead of going into a nursing facility. Latest figures show that 20 percent of Meigs County residents are 60 years of age or over with 16 percent 65 or over.
The services provided with levy funds, supplemented by community contributions and fund raising projects, are the meals on wheels program, transportation for medical treatment, homemaker services, and health related programming and activities. The home delivered meal program means not only that food is being delivered to home bound seniors, but that personal contacts are being made on a daily basis which sometimes reveal a need for other assistance.
Shaver explained that the additional money generated from the .5 mill levy is needed to replace federal and state cuts in funding which have already been made and those which are now threatened because of budgetary reductions expected to take place in the new year. She further noted that failure to pass the additional mileage could mean reductions in the scope of services to the elderly offered by the agency.
Since 1999, the agency has lost 67 percent of the federal and state funding for the home delivered meals program along with additional cuts in other services provided by the agency. To offset the funding losses in the meals on wheels program, the agency operates a bakery, catering service, and arranges travel trips.
In her appeal for votes for the levy, Shaver said she understands that “adding additional taxes is not a popular idea but the agency needs the extra money if the current level of services to the elderly is to be maintained.”
As for the renewal levy for Carleton School -Meigs Industries, Kay Davis, executive director, stressed the need for passing the renewal levy in order to maintain and continue services as they are offered now to children and adults who are mentally retarded or with developmental disabilities. She said like with other agencies there have been state funding cuts in both the Carleton School program for children and the adult workshop where rehabilitation and vocational skills are developed. She said this means the current level of local levy support is critical to services.
About 60 children, babies, pre-schoolers and school aged kids, along with those receiving residential support, are served through Carleton School, while about 75 are enrolled in the adult workshop program.
The only other new levy on the ballot will be for 1.5 mills for the benefit of Columbia Township for road maintenance.
Of the other tax levies on the ballot all are renewals with the exception of the one for Racine Village which is a replacement levy of 1.7 mills (17 cents for each one hundred dollars of valuation) for current expenses for five years
The renewals include Chester Township, a 1.0 mill levy for road maintenance; Letart Township, 1 mill for cemetery maintenance and operation; Middleport Village, 1 mill for fire protection; Olive Township, 1 mill for maintaining and operating cemeteries; Pomeroy Village, 1.9 mills for current expenses, and 1 mill for fire protection; Rutland Township, .3 mill for maintaining and operating cemeteries, and 2.16 mills for road maintenance; and Sutton Township .4 mill for each one dollar of valuation for five years for the purpose of maintaining and operating cemeteries.