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Published: Sunday, 10/31/2004

Defiance County: Voters to cast ballots for 2 commissioners

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Defiance County voters will decide Tuesday whether to increase the taxes for a 911 emergency system and health district and who will fill two county commissioner seats.

Issues in the county include Defiance land rezoning and liquor sales in Tiffin Township.

Funds from a new 1.2-mill, five-year levy for a 911 system would go toward dispatcher's wages and equipment, including technology that could tell dispatchers the location of 911 calls from mobile phones.

For the past two years, the county has spent about $150,000 more on the 911 system than it has taken in from funds earmarked for that, officials said.

The current levy is 0.7 mills and raises $396,000 per year, at an annual cost of $16.22 for the owner of a $100,000 home. The requested levy would raise $816,000 per year and cost such a homeowner $36.75 per year.

The two levies would not be collected at the same time.

A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Voters also are being asked to approve a combination replacement and new levy for the Defiance County Health District.

The 1.1-mill, five-year requested levy would replace the existing 1-mill levy and increase it by 0.1 mills.

It currently raises $655,000 per year at an annual cost of $29.47 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

The requested levy would raise $748,000 per year, costing $33.69 per year for such a home-owner.

The two county commissioner seats are the only contested races for county positions.

Democrat Joe Eureste, an at-large Defiance City Council member, is running against Republican incumbent Otto Nicely.

Mr. Nicely, 61, was appointed county commissioner by the county Republican Party in 1995 and is running for his third full term.

He has been a Noble Township trustee and Defiance County engineer's highway superintendent. He is on a number of county boards and has been with the Noble Township Volunteer Fire Department for 31 years.

He is a full-time commissioner. Defiance County pays its commissioners about $40,000 a year.

Mr. Eureste, 50, is in his third year on Defiance City Council and was on the Defiance City Board of Education for seven years. He is a General Motors-United Auto Workers benefits representative at the GM Powertrain plant near Defiance.

Diana Mayer, a write-in candidate for county commissioner, is running against Republican incumbent Thomas Kime - who voted to fire her from her job as the longtime director of the Defiance County Senior Center.

A state audit released this month found more than $40,000 in taxpayer funds was improperly used for expenses at the senior center, and she was removed from her position in June.

Mrs. Mayer's campaign brochure states: "At the center, we have been able to save over $500,000 in the last six years while still increasing the numbers of seniors served throughout Defiance County by 250 percent.

"When we started as a county agency in 1997, we had to borrow money to get through the first six months of operation," she said. "We paid that advance back and since have saved over $500,000 out of various sources, that we hoped to put toward a new building."

Mr. Kime, 56, is running for his second term as a county commissioner. He is chairman of the county board of revision that hears tax appeals and sits on numerous county and area boards.

He lives in Tiffin Township and is a decorated Army veteran who served in Vietnam.

Defiance has a referendum on rezoning concerning six plots on the city's north side from residential to commercial.

Landowners of older homes at the corner of Clinton and Sessions streets want to sell their property to a developer who has plans for a bank and a drugstore there, city Law Director David Williams said.

Nearby Defiance College has supported the change, but some other neighbors oppose it, saying the area is historic, which led to the ballot issue.

Tiffin Township voters in Precinct B will decide a question about allowing sale of spirituous liquor by the glass in the precinct Monday through Saturday.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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