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Published: Thursday, 8/12/2004

Paulding County board to make 4th levy try

Paulding County Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities officials are hoping the fourth time is the charm.

Paulding County Commissioners agreed yesterday to put on the November ballot the same new 2.92-mill, permanent disabilities operating levy that voters rejected by a more than 2-1 margin last week.

Larger levy requests were defeated in March and November.

"My question to the public is, the levy has been defeated and people have voted against the levy three times now, and I guess I would like to know why," disabilities Superintendent Victor Geib said.

The only answer he's heard to that question is: "We're tired of being taxed. Every time we turn around, it's something else."

The levy, to raise $829,000 per year, would cost $90 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home. March and November's request was a 3.47-mill, permanent levy request that would have cost such a homeowner $107 a year.

Mr. Geib has said the disabilities board needs more money from local residents because of state budget cuts. The board reduced its annual budget to $1.6 million this year, down from $1.925 million last year, and would need to make further cuts for next year's budget if the levy fails again in November, he said.

He said he would propose cuts to the disabilities board at its Sept. 16 meeting, but would not ask the board to act on them until after the election.

Three members of the disabilities board - Paul Grant, Russ Arend, and Jane Gochenour - voted Monday to ask the county commissioners to put their levy request back on the November ballot.

Board members Kevin Albright and Angie Buchman were absent from the special meeting called to discuss the levy. Two seats have been vacant for months on what should be a seven-member board.

Commissioners, who discussed the issue for 40 minutes yesterday, before voting unanimously to put the levy back on the ballot, questioned Mr. Geib at length about whether the levy could pass and what would happen if it does not.

"Like he would be expected to, he showed some optimism," county administrator Stan Searing said of Mr. Geib's answers to commissioners.

However, he did not provide details to the commissioners about campaign plans or reasons why the thrice-failed levy might pass Nov. 2.

Among the cuts he told commissioners he would recommend if another levy failed would be sheltered workshop jobs for some disabled adults.

Disabilities leaders had not campaigned before this month's election. But in March and November levy proponents had distributed brochures.



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