Issue 56 backers worry about ballot language
Issue 56 is a long way down on an already lengthy ballot.
Now, without supporting text identifying the issue as a levy for Franklin County Senior Options, supporters are worried that voters simply will overlook it on Nov. 6.
"I think the ballot language creates a challenge for us," said Antonia Carroll, director of the Franklin County Office on Aging. "We will need to focus our efforts even more on making sure the voters understand that Issue 56 is the Senior Options levy."
The title Senior Options was included when the Franklin County Board of Elections submitted language for Issue 56 to the Ohio Secretary of State, said Ben Piscitelli, spokesman for the elections board. However, the secretary of state's office removed the title.
"We posted the revised language and all other ballot styles for public comment at the board of elections and on our website for two 24-hour periods on Sept. 6 and Sept. 17 without receiving a response," he said. "The second posting was necessary because language was also amended for State Issue 2, so Issue 56 supporters had two chances to issue a challenge and did not."
Matt McClellan, spokesman for the secretary of state, said the Senior Options text did not meet the guidelines for ballot language for tax issues. The issue must list the entity that is benefitting from the tax, whether it be a board, library or political subdivision, McClellan said.
"Senior Options is a program, so it's not any of those entities," he said.
There is, however, a description of the issue on the ballot, he said.
Senior Options provides home-delivered meals, homemaker services and personal care and other assistance. About 6,000 older adults receive help from Senior Options monthly.
If approved, the five-year, 1.3-mill senior-services levy will cost homeowners $39.81 a year per $100,000 in home value -- a $12.79 increase. It is expected to raise $34 million annually. It is an increase from the current 0.9-mill levy set to expire at the end of the year.
Franklin County voters have been very supportive of the levy, which has been approved every five years since 1992, said Janet Caldwell, communications manager for the Office on Aging.
In light of this year's ballot-language issue, supporters will be stepping up their outreach efforts through social media, word of mouth and advertising, she said.
"We have a really great grassroots campaign, a lot of friends, family and supporters, and anybody else who cares to share the message," she said.