The Canal Winchester Times

Violet Township

Trustees endorse making county bridge levy permanent

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Fairfield County Engineer Jeremiah Upp appeared before the Violet Township Board of Trustees Sept. 18 to make a pitch for support of a permanent, 0.5-mill bridge, culvert and road renewal levy on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

The Violet trustees voted 3-0 to officially endorse Fairfield County's 0.5-mill renewal bridge, culvert and road levy.

Upp said as Fairfield County Engineer he is responsible for the replacement, repair, construction or maintenance of 342 bridges located on county, township, city and village roadways as well as for 362 miles of county roads and nearly 2,800 culverts.

He said the existing levy generated more than $1.4 million last year, which comprised half of his office's construction budget.

Upp said the levy also provides the needed local matching funds to qualify Fairfield County for state and federal construction grants.

"When you look at what we do with that as far as getting (Ohio Public Works Commission) and federal funding, that amount means a whole lot more to us than just one-half of our construction budget," Upp said.

He told the trustees without passage of the renewal levy, bridge and road repairs throughout Fairfield County would suffer.

"We aren't asking for any more money," Upp said.

"It's a fixed amount (that is collected annually from the tax)," he said.

The renewal levy, which was collected in 2012 at an effective rate of 0.434124 mills would cost the owner of a $100,000 residence about $13.30 per year or $1.11 per month, Upp. As property values increase, the cost of the levy would decrease, county officials said.

"That's not a whole lot of money for what it does for the county," Upp said of the levy's cost.

Upp said over the last five years the current levy allowed him to allocate about $710,000 in funds to township governments for culvert replacements/extensions and various safety improvements on township roads throughout Fairfield County.

The current road and bridge levy has been in the books since the early 1980s and always has been in 5-year increments, Upp said.

He said the Fairfield County Commissioners voted to make the upcoming renewal levy, termed "Issue 2," a permanent one.

"In 2008, the levy passed by 68 percent during (tough) economic times," Upp said.

"That says a lot about what residents think about their roads and bridges," he said.

"It's timely your doing this," said Gary Weltlich, a Violet Township trustee.

"Let's hope it passes," Weltlich said.

If passed, the first levy money would be collected in 2015, according to the Fairfield County Auditor's Office.

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