Athens County Board of County Commissioners

Athens County Senior Organization Wants Levy On Upcoming Ballot

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ATHENS, OH – One of the largest organizations assisting senior citizens in Athens County is considering putting the senior services levy on the November ballot.

Representatives from United Seniors-Athens County are hoping voters drawn out by this year’s races will also vote for their levy ahead of 2017, when there is no county Primary Election.

Putting the levy up early can also serve as a test run and ease the pressure off organization by providing more than one opportunity to get it passed.

“If something would happen, we have an opportunity because we wait till next year,” Mike Tuner, Program Assistant with United Seniors said. “That’s pretty typical and state government allows us to do that.”

All funds generated by the levy are distributed between organizations assisting senior citizens by the Athens County Board of County Commissioners based on requests and need.

Joyce Lewis, Executive Director of United Seniors said they were allotted $375,000 from the funds, which makes up 90 percent of the senior center’s budget.

The organization is contemplating whether it should renew the levy and keep the funds at the level they are currently, or replace the levy and reassess tax values in order to generate more funds.

While Lewis confirmed they can continue operating with the current allotment, but because the money are split so many ways, there is uncertainty with the funds.

“If we continue at our rate, and [another organization] come in asking for the same amount of dollars, there’s not going to be enough to go around,” she said. “So, if a new organization came in, there wouldn’t be enough money for them.”

The five-year levy was last approved in 2011 and since then, organization have continued to bring their requests to the Athens County Commissioners.

“We get requests from between 12 and 15 organizations a year,” Commission President Lenny Eliason said. “It varies differing years, different organizations have different needs, but United Seniors is the largest group that provides services.”

On Tuesday, the commissioners approved a request to have the county auditor figure up the number for both a renewal proposal and a replacement proposal.

Eliason said he expects those figures to be returned in a matter of days.

Regardless of which path United Seniors wants to take with the levy, the organization hopes voters will remember the quality of services they offer as one of a handful of senior centers in the state certified by the National Council of Aging.

“We’re pleased that we’ve been able to meet that criteria to be a nationally-accredited senior center,” Turner said.

United Seniors-Athens County was recently re-certified for another five years.