Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Colerain may decide to try again for road levy

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLERAIN TOWNSHIP — The board of trustees could decide by Nov. 30 whether to ask voters to approve a road levy for the township in March.

        The township will be without a road levy once the new year starts. A new road levy, which would have accounted for about one-third of the money used to maintain and fix township roads, was defeated Nov. 2, 62 percent to 38 percent.

        Residents were asked to approve a 2-mill continuous levy that would have generated about $1.6 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $58.34 a year. The current 1.5-mill levy, which expires at the end of the year, costs a homeowner $27.13.

        The defeat could mean cuts in road maintenance.

        Without polling, trustees were at a loss to explain the lopsided vote, but said the township cannot get by without some kind of road levy to pay for road maintenance and repairs.

        They had said a larger levy would allow them to make up for at least a decade of no tax increases in the road levy, and help leverage state funds for road work.

        The trustees have not formally talked about how much to ask in a new road levy. Or where to make cuts in road spending.

        “We have to do something,” said Trustee Joseph Wolterman. “We need to talk about putting the levy back on, in March most probably. If we're going to keep the township on the move and keep it healthy, we have to take care of the roads.”

        Said Trustee Keith Corman, “We have to come up with something that people would be happy with. We can't wait until November (2000). It's going to be very, very hard to operate without one.”

        Trustee Diana Lynn Rielage said the levy “didn't just barely fail.”

        The current expiring levy generated about $845,000 a year.

        The trustees and Dennis Chapman, township public works director, say that cuts would have to be made without the benefit of a levy. The township also gets road money from the general fund, and motor vehicle and gasoline taxes.

        “Where you don't do the maintenance today, it becomes more expensive each year that it's not done,” said Mr. Chapman. “Then it gets to where the citizens really start to see it. Things won't get better, they'll only get worse.”

        All the trustees agreed.

        “It would keep getting worse and worse,” said Mrs. Rielage. “You'd always be playing catch-up. And of course the worse the road gets, the more it costs to fix it.”

        It's hard to skimp on maintenance repairs — which might be the first place to look to make cuts — and not expect to pay for it down the road, said Mr. Chapman.

        “If you live on a township street, it's going to affect you,” said Mr. Chapman. “We cannot operate without a road levy. That's the bottom line.”


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