Tommy Thompson wears many hats as a Delaware County commissioner and said this fall he needs to add one more to the list -- salesman.

Tommy Thompson wears many hats as a Delaware County commissioner and said this fall he needs to add one more to the list -- salesman.

The county has two levies on the Nov. 3 ballot. The first, a 0.4-mill levy, would equip and install a countywide outdoor warning siren system. The second, a 0.1-mill levy, would pay for the system's operation and future maintenance. Each would be collected for only one year.

The language on the latter ballot issue submitted by the county to the state for approval included the phrase "to provide the maintenance and operation of a countywide outdoor warning siren system."

In a legal ruling by the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, that language was removed from the final ballot, county administrator Dave Cannon told commissioners Sept. 21.

The ballot, Cannon said, will say the money raised by the maintenance levy will be for "current expenses," forcing the county to put the $625,000 this issue would raise into the county's general fund.

Because the new equipment will be under warranty, commissioners have said, interest on the $625,000 is expected to fund all needed maintenance.

State law, said county assistant prosecutor Kyle Rohrer, allows the county to specify money to pay for the system, but not to maintain it.

Kevin Kidder, media relations coordinator with the secretary of state's office, said the prosecutor's office could submit a legal opinion on why the language should revert back to what was submitted. Rohrer said his office could find no legal reason to challenge the state's ruling.

Thompson agreed.

"The difficulty with that is they (the secretary of state's office) have already made a decision," Thompson said. "I think what we need to do is make sure we publicize what it really means and what we intend to do with it, and at that point, this is what we will tell the people.

"We will basically earmark it for that purpose" -- operating and maintaining the siren system.

The problem is the current commission can designate levy revenue for that purpose but they can't force future commissions to do the same, Rohrer said.

They can enact a nonbinding "declaration of intent" resolution to use the funds for siren maintenance and operations, he said, but future commissions can vote to override the declaration.

While a nonbinding resolution won't prevent future commissions from diverting the money for other purposes, it will force them to make that decision in a public meeting, Thompson said.

The 0.4-mill construction levy would cost taxpayers about $12 per $100,000 of home value and raise about $2.5-million.

The 0.1-mill levy would cost about $3 per $100,000 of house value and raise about $625,000.

Included in the ballot language is a commitment by the commissioners to buy any existing siren systems that other governmental entities have installed in the city of Delaware, Scioto Township, and the villages of Galena and Sunbury, Thompson has said.