Committee begins socially distanced Grandview Heights levy campaign

Alan Froman (afroman@thisweeknews.com)

When the members of Grandview Heights' levy committee participate in a literature drop later this month, they will follow the standard COVID-19 coronavirus protocols.

"We'll be wearing masks and maintaining social distancing," City Council president Emily Keeler said.

"It will be just dropping off the literature," council vice president Chris Smith said. "As far as knocking on the door and saying, 'Hi, I'm Chris Smith," and handing people the literature — we won't be doing that.

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The city has placed Issue 8 on the Nov. 3 ballot. Issue 8 would be a four-year renewal of the city's 7.5-mill property-tax levy that will expire at the end of 2020.

The effective rate of the levy is 5.36 mills for residential properties and 6.64 mills for commercial and industrial properties.

If voters approve the renewal, a residential property owner would continue to pay $164 annually per $100,000 of value of their home.

The levy first was approved in 2012. A renewal was approved in 2016.

The pandemic hasn't affected the levy campaign too much, Smith said.

"It's not much different this year than it was four years ago," he said. "We're using social media, and we have a website again. That's one of the main ways to provide information to voters."

The biggest challenge caused by the pandemic isn't in getting information about the levy to the public because of social-distancing restrictions; it's in finding a safe and convenient way for committee members to meet to discuss and plan the campaign effort, Smith said.

The informal committee includes Keeler, Smith, council member Ryan Edwards, Mayor Greta Kearns, former mayor Ray DeGraw, who is serving as treasurer, and Stefanie Osborne, deputy treasurer.

One of the main themes of the levy campaign is to remind residents that Issue 8 is only a renewal of the current levy and would not raise taxes, Keeler said.

"That's a really important message when we have so much economic uncertainty," Smith said.

Another major theme is the importance of the levy's renewal for city finances, he said.

Along with the literature drop, the committee is distributing yard signs and has posted an FAQ feature on the campaign website, voteyesgrandviewheights.com, Kearns said.

The social distancing that has become standard practice for most people has reduced some of the personal interaction he and other elected officials have with residents, Smith said.

More people might choose to voice their questions or concerns about the levy or any city issue via email or phone call, he said.

Keeler said Grandview's walkability makes it easier for residents to connect with their elected officials.

"People are out walking so much in our community, and it's easy for them to maintain a safe distance and talk with me if they see me sitting on my front porch," she said.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

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