After previously turning down a 1.4-mill, 10-year replacement levy, voters in Henry County are being offered a less-expensive alternative for funding the county health department.
Henry County voters rejected the 1.4-mill levy 6,014 to 4,013 during the November 2011 general election.
For the March 6 primary election, the health department board asks voters for a 1.2-mill replacement levy that must be put up for renewal in five years.
For the owner of a Henry County home valued at $100,000, the levy would cost $36.75 per year– $9.59 more per year than the levy currently adds to tax bills.
Under Ohio law, property taxes are not allowed to rise with inflation. After a levy is passed, it is only allowed to increase with new construction.
If the value of a property increases 10% due to inflation, the levy will be charged against the original value, not the increased value.
If a levy is renewed, it is charged to the homeowner at the original value.
However, if voters approve a replacement levy, it is charged to homeowners at the current valuation rate, which has been allowed to rise with inflation.
It provides more money to the taxing body, but also costs the property owner more money.
Sharon Meece, health educator and public information officer at the Henry County Health Department, said money raised by the levy makes up about 12% of the operating budget.
But it allows the health department to get federal and state grant funding by providing matching funds.
“We couldn’t get grants without that foundation in place, she said.
If the levy fails, health department officials have said they will be forced to drop all non-mandated services, ranging from child and adult immunizations to support for school nursing at parochial schools.
The health department has cut and eliminated staff pay increases, laid off staff and cut hours for those remaining, left vacant positions open, and reduced health insurance benefits for those remaining.
In a press release, Joel Miller, a Health Department Board member, said, “I guess a lot of times you don’t think of the Health Department until you need it. For an additional $9.59 per year, this is an easy decision.
“We need to make sure the services are available in the future.”
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