While the presidential campaign is grabbing national attention, Fairfield County voters in Pickerington and Violet Township will be asked to consider several local issues and elect a new Congressional representative when they go to the polls Nov. 4.

While the presidential campaign is grabbing national attention, Fairfield County voters in Pickerington and Violet Township will be asked to consider several local issues and elect a new Congressional representative when they go to the polls Nov. 4.

Steven Austria, a Republican from Beavercreek, and Sharen Neuhardt, a Miami Township Democrat, are competing for the chance to succeed nine-term U.S. Rep. David Hobson (R-Springfield) and become the 7th U.S. Congressional district's first new representative in nearly two decades.

Neuhardt, 56, is a lawyer and owner of a 950-acre historic farm in Greene County. She is a first-time candidate, but she is no stranger to Washington, D.C. Her law degree is from that city's Georgetown University. She has practiced law for 30 years and currently practices business law in Columbus and Dayton.

Austria, 49, is in his eighth year in the state senate, where he is currently Majority Whip. He has also served two years in the Statehouse. The full-time legislator has a bachelor's degree from Marquette University.

Pickerington residents also will decide whether to increase the city's income tax and authorize city officials to establish a natural gas aggregation program.

If approved, Issue 14 would double the city's income tax from 1 to 2 percent. It would be the first time the income tax has been increased since it was put in place in 1976.

Because Pickerington is one of the few central Ohio communities that taxes income at less than 2 percent, most residents will not see an increase in the amount they pay. City officials have estimated that about 85 percent of residents work outside the city and are already paying the higher tax rate.

The proposed increase is projected to generate an additional $3-million in annual revenue. That money would be used to maintain and improve services that have not been funded in recent years.

Pickerington City Manager Tim Hansley has estimated that about $300,000 will go toward maintaining current police services; $800,000 will be set aside for street maintenance and improvement; $200,000 for parks, recreation and stormwater projects; $200,000 will be set aside in a reserve fund to be used as matching funds for state and federal grant programs; and the balance will be used to pay down the city's approximately $30-million debt.

Pickerington residents are also being asked to support Issue 13, which authorizes the city to establish a natural gas aggregation program.

Utility aggregation programs are in place in cities across the state. They allow residents to purchase utilities as a group and leverage their buying volume to secure lower rates.

Approval of the issue does not require Pickerington to establish a program nor does it commit the city to a particular supplier. If the city does move forward with a natural gas aggregation program, residents will still have the option not to participate.

Fairfield County residents living in Pickerington and Violet Township will find up to three levies to support community services on their ballots.

If approved by voters, the combined levies are expected to cost homeowners a total of an additional $10 a year for each $100,000 of their home's market value.

Fairfield County commissioners are asking residents to consider a five-year, 0.5-mill replacement levy to, among other things, continue to provide meals to senior citizens.

If approved, the senior services levy would apply to all Fairfield County homeowners. It would replace a 0.5-mill levy that went into effect in 2004 and will last be collected in 2009.

In 2007, state reduction factors caused the levy to be collected at an effective rate of about 0.42 mills. As a result, Fairfield County residents paid $12.94 for each $100,000 of their home's market value, or $50 for each $100,000 in value assessed by the county for tax purposes.

In Fairfield County, property is assessed at about 35 percent of market value.

If the replacement levy is approved, residents will pay $15.32 for each $100,000 in market value, an increase of about $2.98.

The levy is expected to raise about $1.5-million a year, an increase of about $240,000 over 2007, if approved by voters.

The money will be used to support three programs operated by Meals on Wheels-Older Adult Alternatives of Fairfield County Inc., including nutrition services for older adults, in-home services and repairs and a grant application review program conducted for the Fairfield County Commissioners.

As of July 31, the agency had delivered 48,211 meals to 486 Fairfield County residents and served another 573 clients a total of 26,154 meals at congregate meal sites. If the levy fails, agency officials have said they will be able to deliver only about 25,000 meals to 175 clients and feed an additional 130 people a total of 15,000 congregate meals.

Pickerington and Violet Township residents will vote on a five-year, 0.2-mill levy to support the Pickerington Senior Center.

If approved, the levy will cost homeowners about $7 for each $100,000 of their home's market value, or $20 for each $100,000 in value assessed by the county for tax purposes. It would raise about $185,000 a year.

The senior center's board of trustees is seeking the levy in order to expand programs, services and hours at the facility. It is the first time in more than a decade the organization has sought taxpayer support.

Finally, Violet Township residents who live in Fairfield County but outside the Pickerington School District are being asked to consider a five-year, 0.5-mill renewal levy to support the Fairfield County District Library.

County residents living within the school district boundaries pay taxes to support, and are served by, the Pickerington Public Library. However, a portion of Violet Township is within the borders of Canal Winchester, which is served by the county library district.

State reduction factors caused the levy to be collected in 2007 at an effective rate of about 0.42 mills. It costs residents $12.91 for each $100,000 of their home's market value and raised about $830,000.

County officials said the renewal levy will not cost residents any more in the future because the effective rate will continue to decline at about the same rate as property values are expected to rise.