A LEVY that will appear on the May 6 ballot could be vitally important for residents of Pease Township.
Approximately a year ago, local governments were subjected to severe funding cutbacks from the state. They lost state reimbursements for the eliminated tangible personal property tax, and about $250 million a year from the elimination of Ohio's estate tax.
Then, the 2014-2015 state budget increased the state's General Revenue Fund by $4.5 billion over two years, while local government faced $95 million in cuts. (Ohio budgets on a biennial basis, meaning each budget provides funding for a two-year period.)
Along with many other communities, Pease Township attempted to pass a levy to compensate. Voters blocked it, and subsequently between 150 and 175 street lights were shut off, mostly in fringe township areas in Lansing, Wolfhurst, Sunset Heights, Blaine, Boydsville, and Yorkville.
Pease Township Trustee Mike Bianconi said if the levy is passed this time, immediate benefits will be seen.
"I've been using the phrase 'light it up, clean it up, fix it up.' Light it up meaning turn all the lights back on, and add some. Clean it up, meaning have some money to tear down some homes, and fix up some roads," Bianconi said.
He said there are at least 50 dilapidated buildings throughout the township that need to be removed, but it's no easy task. Tearing down a building costs an average of $10,000 with the fees from equipment, labor, excavation, and dumping.
Passing the levy will not solve all of the township's problems, but Bianconi guarantees it will turn all of the lights back on. He hopes the promise of instant gratification will promote the levy's passage, and signs will be out closer to the election.
"These are their homes. Someone else isn't going to come in and do this for them. We need people to take value in where they live and support their communities," Bianconi remarked.
Bianconi encouraged residents to call Gov. Kasich's office to voice complaints about funding cuts. He says if local government funds had not been cut by the state, Pease Township lights would never have been turned off.
"This individual, and the powers that be in Columbus, are just taking our tax dollars and keeping them. That's the problem," Bianconi said. "That's the reason we have to have the levy, because of Gov. Kasich cutting our local governments. And it wasn't just Pease Township, it was all the townships, counties, park districts, and libraries."
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