Local voters will help decide a countywide levy request when they go to the polls Nov. 8.

Local voters will help decide a countywide levy request when they go to the polls Nov. 8.

The Licking County Soil and Water Conservation District has 0.1-mill five-year operating levy request on the ballot, and the main reason for it is because future county and state-matched funding levels are unknown, said Jim Kiracofe, the district’s program administrator.

“If the county says we’re going to cut back 50 percent, (which is) what it did in 2010, it’ll be a problem,” he said.

Kiracofe said county and state appropriations to the district were reduced more than 50 percent in 2010 and a 50-percent reduction in the state’s Local Government Fund for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 will likely further reduce the conservation district’s funding.

According to the conservation district website, the 2009 appropriation was $460,000, and in 2010 and 2011, the district received $222,000 in funding. The 2012 and 2013 funding levels are unknown; however, Kiracofe projects appropriations to be reduced substantially.

He said the conservation district has already reduced staff, programs and services, and additional funding reductions would severely limit its ability to maintain basic programs and services. So, he said, the district is asking for the levy, which would generate $370,000 per year for five years and cost $3.06 per year for every $100,000 of assessed property valuation.

Should the levy fail, Kiracofe said, the district’s board members “will evaluate our programs and prioritize.” He added that further staff reduction likely would be necessary.

The conservation district helps landowners manage soil and make informed land-use decisions; encourages best-management practices to reduce water pollution; protects and restores the environment; and provides education and outreach about the importance of sustaining natural resources, according to its website.

Licking County commissioner clerk Bev Adzic said Sept. 30 that she was not aware of any organized group opposing the levy.

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