CALCUTTA - With the November general election drawing near, St. Clair Township Trustees are making their case for an additional 2 mill road levy.
The 2 mill levy would generate $285,400 annually to be used for the construction and maintenance of township roadways. According to the Columbiana County Auditor, the levy would raise taxes by $70 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.
Trustees, at their biweekly meeting on Tuesday, argued that with the rising cost of maintaining roads and little or no increase in revenue, the township will have no choice but to continue to scale back the maintenance of township roadways
"Our personal budgets are no different than our budget here at the township - we all have to live within our means," said Trustee Robert Swickard "However, stretching that dollar has become harder and harder and the reality is that due to inflationary costs it's getting more difficult for our four guys (township road employees) to do their job."
Township Fiscal Officer Deborah Dawson said the levy would be a modest increase in taxes for township residents and a way for them to contribute to making their community better.
"If you have a house worth $150,000 it's going to cost you $7.65 a month to pay to have your roads in good condition," said Dawson. "It just a way of contributing to the cost of living in St. Clair township."
With roughly 72 miles of township roadways to maintain, trustees and Road Supervisor Scott Barrett stated that without a levy, they may have no choice but to become very selective about which roads are given attention and when.
"We have never ever had a road levy in the township and most townships do have road levies," said Trustee James Hall "Without a road levy the program is going to go down to the point where we're really going to have to scrutinize the roads individually and maybe do one a year or every three years - it depends on what the funding comes out to."
"In five years, we went from a four-year program (for repaving roads) to a 7.5-year program," said Barrett "I tell people when we do your road this year we're not coming back for seven and a half more years."
Trustees acknowledged that recent attempts to get a road levy passed have been unsuccessful. Trustees noted this levy is not a permanent one and if voters believe the tax revenue has not been properly used they can vote the levy down after five years.
"This isn't a permanent levy so people have a chance to see how we do with a new levy, and they have an opportunity to vote it down again if they feel we don't our job," said Trustee James Sabatini
"Nobody likes to pay more taxes - I know I don't," said Hall. "But to maintain the condition of our roads in the township we have to find some funds somewhere and the levy is going to be the only way we can do it at this point."