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We are typically loathe to tell people whether they should support a local tax. People generally know their community, and whether someone can afford a tax is a personal question only they can answer. With that being said, we hope Ashtabula County Board of Developmental Disabilities does brings its tax levy back before voters on an upcoming ballot.
Voters this month rejected the Board of Developmental Disabilities’ proposed .67-mill increase to its operating levy by an (unofficial) 53-47 percent. It would have generated an additional $2 million per year for the board, and increased the cost $25 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.
However, in an election that had a decidedly anti-tax vibe, particularly in the northwest corner of the county where numerous levies were on the ballot and soundly defeated, it is hard to know how much of the measure’s defeat can truly be attributed to issues with the DD board, Happy Hearts or Ashcraft, and how much was simply an anti-tax wave. That’s why we hope the issue goes back to voters for more consideration.
Like every local municipality in the last decade, the board has seen a steep loss in state and federal revenues and reimbursements — it will total close to $2.3 million next year. Just to maintain current services, officials say an infusion of revenue is needed. The board has been deficit spending for almost a decade and projects it will run out of money next year. Officials have made cuts as well, eliminating 49 positions through attrition since 2004, and changing salary and benefit schedules for new hires, saving about $26.2 million.
This is yet another example of our frustrations with the state, and its insistence on balancing its own budget on the backs of local governments and, in turn, local taxpayers. Without the state cuts, we likely would not even be talking about an increase in the tax levy now. We do not want to see that trend trickle down to the local level with every agency — or even every family — being forced to start a gofundme account just to pay for basic services.
As we said, we know deciding whether to support a tax is a deeply personal decision for each voter, and we do understand there are some voters who simply can’t afford to pay more, even if they might want to. But for those who are just generally anti-tax no matter what, we hope you will consider — if we don’t draw the line here, with the most vulnerable of our citizens, where will we draw the line?
At some point, if we wish to continue to have a society, we must sustain our institutions, and particularly those that aid an underserved community.
This article has been reproduced for educational purposes only and appeared in the Ashtabula Star Beacon. The original story can be found at: http://www.starbeacon.com/opinion/editorials/give-dd-levy-another-look/article_6b340693-6d91-53ec-85da-d02cf2359aa7.html
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