Delaware County commissioners on Aug. 23 voted 2-1 to keep the property-tax rollback first passed in 2000.

Delaware County commissioners on Aug. 23 voted 2-1 to keep the property-tax rollback first passed in 2000.

Now 1 mill, the rollback has been as high as 1.8 mills and as low as 0.6 mill.

Commissioner Ken O'Brien said repeal of the rollback would be tantamount to a tax increase and if the county needs to raise taxes, it should put the issue before voters.

The rollback affects the county's "inside" millage, which the state lets local governments collect without voter approval.

Two members of the audience - state Rep. Kris Jordan and Liberty Township trustee Robert Mann - also said failing to keep the rollback would equal a tax increase.

Jordan, a former commissioner, told the commissioners to conduct "across-the-board cuts, do (mandatory) furloughs (of employees), tell the unions to choose between no pay raises or work with less people."

Commissioner Tommy Thompson introduced the resolution to repeal the rollback and voted for it.

He said property tax relief is available to the elderly in the form of the homestead exemption, and those whose home values have plunged can get tax payments reduced by appealing to the county board of revision.

The rollback keeps the county from collecting $6.3-million a year, Thompson said, about 10 percent of its annual budget.

"Do you want to give up 10 percent of your services? Because that's what it's going to amount to," Thompson said.

Interim county administrator Deborah Martin said projections show the county will avoid a budget deficit in 2011, but in 2012, the county will be "in the red."

She said after the meeting that the latest projections for 2012 won't be available until the next meeting of the county budget commission.

Thompson during the meeting said the state of Ohio might cut its annual contribution to the county by $2.2-million.

If sheriff Walter Davis is forced to reduce the number of patrolling deputies, Thompson said, the county might experience what happened in Morrow County. Daylight burglaries and the crime rate increased there when deputies were taken off the road.

Job and family services director Mona Reilly - who, like Mann and Jordan, said she was speaking as a private citizen - said the number of people seeking assistance has increased more than 100 percent in recent years.

That increase is creating caseloads of more than 600 people for each JFS caseworker, she said.

Commissioner Todd Hanks, who voted with O'Brien to keep the rollback, said only one person among those who e-mailed him supported repealing the tax.

O'Brien named seven persons who he said e-mailed him in support of the rollback. One e-mail was from a woman who said her 80-year-old mother would be forced from her home if the rollback were repealed.

Thompson said if the county gives the public reduced services for the same amount of money, "as far as I'm concerned, that's a tax increase." He compared it to paying for a pound of candy but getting only 14 ounces.

For a homeowner, the 1-mill rollback represents $30.62 a year for each $100,000 of appraised valuation.