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Published: Monday, 10/18/2004

For Issue 39

When Lucas County voters go to the polls on Nov. 2, they must remember to go to the end of the list of issues on the ballot. Issue 39, the very last one, asks voters to consider a 0.45-mill replacement levy for services to the county's growing elderly population.

The Area Office on Aging continues to demonstrate fiscal responsibility as it oversees multiple and vital services to the elderly, a segment of the population that will only continue to grow. For that reason, we urge voters to vote FOR Issue 39.

This request for 0.45 mills is not a new tax, although as a replacement levy it will collect more revenue than the levy it succeeds. After hearing the agency make its case, we are persuaded the extra revenue is needed.

The 0.45-mill, five-year replacement levy would provide 11 percent of the Area Office on Aging's $29 million annual budget. Most of the rest comes from state and federal government. The levy would generate about $900,000 more than what the current levy brings, which is $3 million a year. That means the owner of a $100,000 home will pay about 4 cents a day, or about $13.78 annually, up from $9.65 a year now.

Funds generated by Issue 39 would permit the continued operation of services, and some growth. Nutrition services are one of the agency's most popular programs, including coupons for qualified seniors to obtain fruit and vegetables from local markets. Home care services help seniors remain in their own homes by providing personal care and homemaking. Medical transportation and health assessments programs are among the services offered under senior services. Also, the levy funds would support Alzheimer's day care and senior facilities' renovations and repairs.

The Area Office on Aging also provides services to nine other counties, but funds for those programs come from federal and state money. Lucas County residents can be assured that money generated from the levy will remain in the county for seniors here.

The agency knows it cannot replace the family, but it understands that families need help with aging relatives. And the growth is already occurring. Lucas County's 76,000 people aged 60 and older make up 17 percent of the county's population. In fact, about 30,500 senior citizens use levy-funded senior programs now. That's 9,000 more than used them in 2000.

Should Issue 39 fail, many senior citizens who need services would remain on waiting lists, including those who need emergency repairs to furnaces and roofs. Nutrition programs could be cut and some senior centers closed.

The impact would be tough on senior citizens, their families, and the grandchildren that 6,000 Lucas County seniors are rearing.

The health and welfare of Lucas County's growing senior citizen population depends on the services provided by the Area Office on Aging.

For about $4 more a year, voters can help keep these senior programs operating by approving Issue 39.



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