Over the course of the past several months, I have studied all the comments and articles pertaining to the MARCS levy of .45 mills (County Issue 3). I have several observations to address and also some questions I would like answered.
First, in an article in The Daily Advocate on August 9, the following statements were made: “The closure and sale of Darke County Home was announced in April, as part of the county’s efforts to raise funds for upcoming emergency system upgrades.” A further statement from Commissioner Rhoades was “We spend about half a million a year there.” Without that half a million expenditure annually, doesn’t that free up quite a bit of monies for other needs such as the MARCS?
Secondly, in an article on October 12 it was stated that Darke County was the recipient of the Ohio Community and Safety Grant in the amount of $500,000 to install a communications tower. Also it states that the Darke County fire departments jointly applied and received monies from the State Fire Marshall’s Office in excess of $600,000 to purchase portable radios and technology.
So let’s summarize. We have received $500,000 and $600,000 plus whatever proceeds from the sale of the County Home property plus a reduction of some half million a year formerly spent on that property. Now I understand why the statement was made that “we are going to transition to the MARCS system whether or not the levy passes.”
Thirdly, in an article of September 29 Versailles fire and police officials said they would have to set aside $36,000 annually if the levy fails. In a October 5 article it was stated that Greenville would have to set aside $37,000 annually for 5 years. Assuming every other municipality would have the same approximate annual expenditure, and assuming some six or seven such users, we would see an annual need in the ballpark of $220-260,000. That is a far cry from the $572,000 that Auditor Ginn stated would be generated from a .45 mill levy.
I have no doubt as to the desirability or need for a countywide communication system, and I am for that cause. My objections are twofold: I have seen no numbers yet that support and justify $572,000 annually. Stronger than that, however, is the fact that this is an ongoing levy that will go on forever. I defy the commissioners to show that 25 years from now we will need $572,000 for communications needs. This is absurd. After awhile when all equipment is purchased, and needed upgrades are met, the need for such funding just cannot be there at that level. If the monies from a specific need levy such as this one can only be used for communications, I could foresee some imaginative accounting happening, such as purchasing a firetruck and labeling it “communications” because it comes equipped with a radio.
Vote NO and force the commissioners to come back with a more reasonable millage level, and above all a specific duration. Remember, once hatched, this turkey will never go away, and will continue to grow with increased property valuations such as just recently occurred.