TRUMBULL COUNTY Commissioners agree on senior citizen levy

A legal opinion told commissioners they had to act on the library levy.
HOWLAND -- Trumbull County commissioners moved toward putting yet another levy on the already-crowded November ballot Wednesday, when they backed a 0.75-mill levy for senior citizens services or facilities.
The board will vote one more time on the measure Friday morning. Commissioners met at the township administration building.
The levy is supported by organizations such as SCOPE Inc. and District XI Area Agency on Aging, which address needs of senior citizens. Trumbull County voters last year defeated a similar measure.
Proponents said the senior population is growing, but most of the programs that serve it are underfunded. One area in which the money could be beneficial is increasing the presence of community centers for seniors, they said.
According to county auditor's office, the five-year levy would generate about $2.6 million annually. It would cost the owner of a house valued at $100,000 about $23 per year.
Library levy
Also Wednesday, commissioners also gave final approval to putting an additional 1-mill levy for the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library on the November ballot -- even though they didn't feel it was a good idea.
Commissioner Paul Heltzel voted no on the library measure, saying he felt that other levies on the ballot are more important. There are also levy requests this fall from Fairhaven School programs and Children Services.
In the library's case, the commissioners were required to put the library levy before voters -- no matter what their personal preference, they were advised.
Daniel Polivka, board chairman, explained that the Ohio Attorney General's opinion on the matter was that if the commissioners did not approve putting the measure on the ballot, they would likely be challenged in court.
When Commissioner James Tsagaris asked whether all three commissioners could vote no, an assistant prosecutor, Jason Earnhart, said doing so would cost the county money.
"I'm not convinced of the need for the whole levy. I may become convinced," Heltzel said.
Not without concerns
Library officials had previously indicated that the library board might be able to discontinue collection of the 0.4-mill levy approved in 1992 if the new levy is approved in November. Heltzel said the board's refusal to commit to eliminating that levy has him concerned.
Polivka voted for the measure but added, "We're in tough times right now. We will support it because of the [legal] opinion, but I have some concerns."
Robert Briell, library director, said afterward that he was surprised commissioners did not give more support to the levy. He said the library system has "basically brought in the same money since 1999" while adding a new branch. "If you want to maintain services, you need more money," he said.
The library has cut budgets, staff and hours in light of the static funding, the director said. Employees have been trimmed from 112 to 103 by attrition, and hours were eliminated on Sunday, the busiest day, he said.

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