Pickerington Times-Sun

Violet Township hires firm to test road levy waters

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Violet Township has procured the services of a Columbus-based consulting firm to help determine of there is sufficient public support to place a road levy on the ballot next year.

Township Director of Operations Bill Yaple said the firm, Allerton Hill Consulting, has already been conducting telephone interviews with township residents to gauge interest in the issue.

"We're going to see what this tells us," Yaple said.

"We're just targeting the unincorporated voters," he said, adding any future road levy wouldn't apply to Pickerington city voters.

"We've got to find out if the public even supports (a road levy)," Yaple said.

"If their not ready, we just got to get them ready through education," Yaple said.

Violet Township Engineer Greg Butcher said the survey "should give us valuable information on what our constituents think going forward."

Township Trustee Gary Weltlich said drastic state cuts to local governments coupled with increased pavement maintenance costs leaves the township with few other options other than to explore a road levy.

Hiring a consulting firm was the first logical step, he said.

"They are experts in determining the viability of putting on levies," Weltlich said.

"We contacted them because we want to know if we have a chance of getting a road levy passed and at what millage rate," he said.

According to Policy Matters Ohio, the State of Ohio cut local government aid for its 2012 and 2013 budgets by $1 billion dollars.

Weltlich said townships across the state are bracing for additional cuts.

"Townships are under siege," he said.

"All local governments, even counties, are suffering," Weltlich said.

"Our revenues are being cut."

He said the elimination of the estate tax in 2013 has further challenged Violet Township.

"That was a significant number to us," Weltlich said.

"Five years ago they also took away the personal property tax monies we used to get a portion of," he said.

One recent casualty of state funding reductions was Joy Davis.

Violet Township eliminated her position as Economic Development Director in November. The trustees said it was solely because of budget constraints.

"It was a (significant) salary," Weltlich said.

"We eliminated that because of financial reasons," he said.

Yaple said the township is bracing for an additional 33 percent reduction in state funding at the start of next year.

The township spent about $750,000 on its road budget in 2013.

"We need to (spend) around $800,000 to $1.2 million every year just to keep the roads from going bad," Yaple said.

He said he anticipates the township will spend the bare minimum, about $500,000, to maintain its network the 106 miles of township roads next year.

"I think we'll have to next year," Yaple said.

"We've got some carry over and money set aside because we planned for our Rainy Day Fund, but we try not to use all of our rainy day money," he said.

Violet Township Fiscal Officer Chris Smith said $60,000 will be expended for the services of the levy consultant, half of which has been paid.

Yaple told the Violet Township trustees Dec. 4 he will contact Fairfield County Deputy Auditor Ed Larramee about the fashioning ballot language for a proposed road levy.

Weltlich told Yaple the sooner the better.