Colerain Township voters said no to Issue 3, a five-year, 2-mill levy for roads, parks and the senior center. Now Colerain Township officials will need to decide what to do next.
The levy lost with 9,129 voting against the tax or 54.75 percent and 7,545 votes for the levy, or 45.25 percent. Voter turnout was 17,249 or 44.6 percent of the township's 38,677 registered voters.
The proposed levy would have generated about $2.1 million annually if passed, and township officials said $1.5 million of that would be earmarked for road resurfacing. The cost of the levy to the owner of a $100,000 home would have been about $70 annually.
"I think the vote speaks to how the community values roads, parks and the senior center," Colerain Township Administrator Jim Rowan said. "From my perspective, we take the Rumpke settlement and address the roads and look at what to do about what are non-core services as evidenced by the vote. The board will have some hard decisions to make. I don't know that I would recommend another levy in November. It seems the message from the voters is to live within the money you have."
Officials said if the levy passed, the township could supplement money from the Rumpke settlement to fix more roads and could improve maintenance in parks and continue to operate the Colerain Township Senior Center. With its failure, the township could close some of its parks, the parking fees in others will likely remain in effect and the continued operation of the senior center is not guaranteed. And it will take longer to get the township's roads in better repair.
Rowan said he plans to meet with the Financial Advisory Committee to talk about setting a fund balance policy so it's clear what money is available for operations.
"I plan to have conversations with the board and the FAC about spending reserves," he said. "I am not advocating immediate action, but that's the board's decision. We have a lot of data to collect."
Rowan said he will be talking with the township's financial advisory committee and trustees as the township's leadership team starts the process of developing the 2017 tax budget. He says the decision as to whether to put a levy on the November ballot and what kind of levy that might be will rest with the trustees.
Senior citizens at the Colerain Township Senior Center were anxious about what will happen. Rowan says he has no immediate plans to make a change.
"I don't anticipate we would drop the hammer immediately," he said. "We don't want to over-react. And we need to gather a lot of information as we prepare the budget."
"I've come here more than 30 years," June Bader said. "I don't know what I will do if the center closes."