Senior services pondering new levy

Craig Kelly | The Lima News Members of the Senior Citizens Service Levy Committee meet with Allen County Commissioners Jay Begg, left, and Greg Sneary on Tuesday. From left: Tonya Meyer, Diane Bishop, Alice Curth, Betsy Winget.

LIMA — With the upcoming biennial state budget bringing reductions in funding for Allen County senior citizen services totaling $184,000, the Allen County Senior Citizens Services Levy Committee approached the county commissioners Tuesday to gather information and input on placing a new levy on the November ballot.

“We are asking commissioners for information and they are gathering information from us,” Allen County Council on Aging Executive Director Diane Bishop said. “We don’t have any definite decisions at this point.”

Currently, senior services in Allen County receive funds from a 0.5 mill and a 0.3 mill levy. Four agencies share in the levy funding: the Council on Aging, Senior Citizen Services, Delphos Senior Citizens and Bluffton Senior Center. According to Bishop, all the agencies operate on a very modest budget, and losing $184,000 represents a huge loss.

“We share levy revenue, and with the [state funding] loss, we share in that, as well,” Bishop said. “We represent thousands of seniors in this community, and what we’ve found is when we deal with state loss, the local community steps up, and we take care of our own.”

Previous ballot initiatives have been well supported by voters, with as much as 73 percent support in previous elections. The levy presently being considered is a renewal and addition to the 0.5 mill levy, bringing it up to a 1 mill levy beginning in 2017.

“We need to continue services for seniors and grow with the senior population,” Bishop said. “It’s important to note that this levy would translate to 10 cents per $100 of valuation.”

Presently, the committee has considered letting the 0.3 mill levy run its course unrenewed. However, that levy is not set to expire until 2018, which would bring a one-year overlap between it and the 1 mill levy. Commissioners Jay Begg and Greg Sneary suggested that the committee determine whether that levy should just expire as scheduled or if it should be discontinued upon passage of the proposed 1 mill levy.

“I would say to get with your boards and discuss it,” Sneary said during the meeting. “If you need a week or a few weeks to discuss it, let us know.”

The deadline to put a levy on the November ballot is Aug. 5.

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