Monday, October 25, 2004

Butler County tax levies face a host of unknowns



By John Kiesewetter
Enquirer staff writer

HAMILTON - Having two countywide health levies on the ballot - in a hotly contested presidential election with a record number of new voters - means lots of unknowns for levy supporters.

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"The number of new registrants is a concern. We don't know their attitudes about taxes for mental health," said John Staup, Butler County Mental Health Board director. His agency is seeking renewal of an expiring 0.5-mill levy for 10 years.

Supporters of the 1-mill permanent replacement levy for the Butler County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities aren't taking any chances. They're mailing literature to each new registrant, Executive Director Jim Mueller said.

Each campaign has reported spending more than $79,000 to promote the ballot issues.

Mueller is more concerned about both agencies being on the same ballot, for the first time in years.

"I'd prefer not to be on the ballot with them. I think it confuses voters," he said.

Both are on the ballot because voters rejected a new five-year, 0.5-mill mental health levy in March that would have generated $3.5 million a year. So voters are being asked to renew a expiring levy passed in 1985 - and renewed in 1994 - that brings in $2 million. The owner of a $100,000 home would continue to pay $7.47 per year, or 2 cents a day.

If the levy fails, Staup said, programs could be cut for about 2,000 of the 8,500 people served by his agency.

Mental retardation officials had to go to voters because two 0.5-mill levies expired last year. The new 1-mill levy will raise about $7.1 million annually, twice the amount of the expiring levies based on 1976 and 1984 valuations.

The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $30.62 a year, an increase of about $20 over the two old levies, Mueller said. The agency serves 1,850 people.

"We think our request for an additional $20 per year is modest. We've made a long-term commitment to people with mental retardation and developmental disabilities. There is no cure for that," he said.

E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com




ELECTION 2004
Blackwell revels in the hot seat
Edwards preaches to faithful
Levy vote puts in question Drake's long-term prognosis
Lawmakers get in position for leadership
Dems out to clinch the Jewish vote
Record high of 9 women hold governor's offices
Senate campaign heats up
Jefferson Co. Republicans won't use poll challengers
Butler County tax levies face a host of unknowns
N.Ky. a stronghold for Bush, poll says
Bush, Kerry hammer home themes
Ohio Supreme Court opponents disagree on revealing views
Math professor challenging county treasurer
Franklin voters consider merger
Election 2004 section

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