Headshot of Mikayla Rochelle | Opinion Editor

Headshot of Mikayla Rochelle | Opinion Editor

Levy Voting Local

November 1, 2021

So Listen: Voting in Levies is important to Athens

By Mikayla Rochelle | Opinion Editor

Correction appended.

V oting is important. I won’t be the first or last person to tell you that this week. While the years where there are huge statewide or nationwide elections feel more important and are covered more in the news, the off-year elections are important too. Oftentimes, less people vote in off-year elections. In a presidential election, voting rates are around 60%, while in midterm elections only about 40% of people vote. On an off-year like this year, where it is neither a presidential election nor a midterm, that turnout is even lower.

The irony in these results, is that the smaller and local elections have a bigger impact on people’s lives than who the president is.

The presidential election may decide who the leader of our country is, but the president himself doesn’t decide what funding your community gets: you get to decide that. That’s the beauty of democracy and local elections: if you find the issue important and want it funded, you can vote to get it funded. Unfortunately, this is a pitfall of democratic participation. People tend to skip elections that aren’t sensationalized on the news.

Recognizing the importance of these local issues is the first step in centering our voices through democracy. There is no better way to do this than voting in local elections. Levies are an important yet overlooked aspect of elections that fund the issues and programs that we voters care about.

Levies can be complicated to understand if you have never heard of them. A levy is a compulsory tax imposed in a municipality, sometimes based on property value, in order to pay for government services and public expenditures. Put simply, levies are the taxes we pay to receive services from our local government.

This election cycle, in Athens County, there are three levies up to be voted for, all for renewal. A renewal levy allows for the county to continue to collect taxes as scheduled year to year. The other type of levy is a replacement levy, which replaces levies with a revamped plan when their time frame ends.

The first of the three levies up for renewal provides Emergency Medical Services funding. This levy provides $1 million over five years beginning in 2022 with tax payments first due in 2023. This levy is pretty important to the function of the county. EMS is one of the most essential functions for the county and for Athens County citizens.

The next levy is a renewal levy for senior service and facilities. This levy is for $750,000 over five years beginning in 2022 with tax payments first due in 2023. This levy is of course important as well because it supports senior citizens. As they are one of the vulnerable populations, they should certainly be a goal of all voters.

The final levy on the ballot is a renewal levy for a general fund for operation, acquisition, construction and renovation of mental health and recovery services and facilities. This levy is for $1 million over 10 years beginning in 2022 with tax payments first due in 2023. It should also be a simple choice for voters, as mental health services are increasingly important in our lives, and these services should remain and stay accessible.

Voters should vote in support of all of these levies. Levies are crucial to the function of our government. Just because there are no large national elections on the ballot this year doesn’t mean this election cycle isn’t important. Go vote, and make sure to support these levies and support our community.

Mikayla Rochelle is a graduate student studying public administration at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated the renewal levy for senior service and facilities was for $75 million, when it should've said $750,000. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

AUTHOR: Mikayla Rochelle
EDITOR: Hannah Campbell
COPY EDITOR: Anna Garnai