St. Clair defeats road levy again

CALCUTTA — Even with a higher voter turnout compared to the March primary, the fifth go-around for the St. Clair Township road levy was the same as before — a loss.

Voters in St. Clair Township again narrowly defeated to five-year, 2-mill road levy, which would have been provided the township’s road department its first-ever levy. The final count, according to complete, but unofficial results, from the Columbiana County Board of Elections, was 1,817 against the levy, and 1,784 in favor.

“We’re disappointed needless to say, but we’re thankful for those who supported it, and we’ll move forward,” Trustee Chairman James Sabatini said. “We’ll have some tough decisions to make, but we’ll stay for the course and move forward and take care of the township.”

Trustees had looked into the passage of the levy to provide funding for the road department, which generated funds would have covered projects, materials, and equipment. The township had also discussed receiving certain finances from the state, but also noted that the cost of expenses had been rising, hence the need for the levy.

As mentioned in previous meetings, Trustee Robert Swickard said the trustees will continue to work with what it has for the time being to maintain the township.

“The unfortunate reality is that what we can get is going to be less and less, but we’ll still continue to do everything that we can to pinch pennies,” Swickard said. “The road crew themselves, the guys work hard and they save the taxpayers countless amounts of money, but the machinery is just getting old and some of the things just aren’t going to be fixed soon, so we just go on from here.”

Had the levy passed, the township would have received a revenue of $294,400 annually for the next five years, and residents will have seen an increase of taxes of anywhere between $28 to $105, depending on the cost of the home.

Trustees also looked at a trend of election-to-election growth with the levy, with trustees seeing a more positive response each time it was placed back on the ballot. Its most recent attempt, during the March primary, resulted in failure by just nine votes.

As was the case in the March primary, the race Tuesday remained very close throughout the evening, but once all eight precincts were counted around 9:40 p.m., the levy fell by 33 votes.

While not as close as the March attempt, it was still a narrow margin, even with a higher voter turnout this time around, with 3,601 votes counted, according to the unofficial results, compared to a little over 2,100 back in March.

“The pattern was very similar to the last time, and that’s why I think with the higher voter turnout, the race might have been a little bit better, but it was still really close,” Sabatini said. “It’s encouraging to see that much support, so we’re going to just have to regroup and decide what we’ll do moving forward.”

As for the future, Sabatini said the trustees will have to decide what the next step will be, or if the trustees would consider a sixth attempt at the levy.

“I don’t think we can decide that right now, I’ll have to decide that with myself and the other trustees,” Sabatini said. “We’ll just see how things shape up over the next few months before the next election.”

Trustee James Hall could not be reached for comment.