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Approve Wells Township Levies

Officials — and voters — in Jefferson County’s Wells Township must find some way to deal with a very simple challenge. It is that last year, township trustees had about $2.4 million in tax revenue to cover services such as police protection and road repairs, but this year, they have just $1.2 million.

The plain truth is that no government entity can make a dollar bill go twice as far this year as it did last. Without more revenue, township trustees will have no choice but to slash services.

About $1 million of the annual revenue decrease is due to taxation changes at the Cardinal power plant. Trustees have no control over that. Their only option for more money is to ask township voters to approve higher property taxes on themselves.

Trustees have been asking for such an authorization for about a year and a half. In May 2018, voters said no to a property tax levy, by a vote of 290-267. That November, a similar issue was defeated, 544-437.

This May, twin 3-mill levies, one for police and one for road maintenance, were shot down again by voters. Margins of defeat were narrower, however, at 267-252 for the police levy and 271-247 for the road maintenance issue.

Trustees may be hoping the fourth time is the charm. A 3-mill police levy and a 3-mill road levy are on the Nov. 5 election ballot.

Wells Township’s police department, once capable of providing round-the-clock protection has been slashed to just three full-time officers. Road maintenance is at a bare minimum.

If anything, the situation may grow worse in the future without passage of the levies.

Should voters reject the levies a fourth time, trustees will have no choice but to make tough decisions on behalf of their constituents. Police protection may have to be left up to the sheriff’s department, meaning delays in calls for assistance being answered. Some roads will have to be allowed to continue deteriorating, perhaps to the point of being closed.

No one likes higher taxes. But saving a few dollars at the cost of losing important — in some cases critical — services seems like a bad trade. We encourage Wells Township voters, then, to approve the new levies on Nov. 5.

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