Village of Lowell seeks levy increase

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times James Booth walks near dusk on Tuesday in front of his house on Fourth Street in Lowell, across the street from the elementary school. A former village council member, Booth says he probably will vote in favor of the increased mill levy coming up on the Nov. 7 ballot but expressed frustration at the increasing neglect the state has shown in supporting the finances of small communities like his.

LOWELL –Voters in the village of Lowell, home to about 542 people in 245 households, are being asked by local leaders to approve a 3.75-mill levy on Nov. 7.

The slogan for the levy campaign is, “Let’s keep the streetlights on and help support the general fund.” Mayor Steve Weber said most of the money raised if the levy passes will be put toward paying the bill for the village’s 70 streetlights, which cost between $11,000 and $13,000 a year to operate.

“It basically takes care of the streetlights, to keep those burning, and without this we don’t keep going,” he said.

Lowell taxpayers now pay a 2-mill levy, but that expires next year, so the new levy would replace that source of income for the village with a higher rate.

For a home worth $80,000, which is the average in Lowell, and assessed for taxes at $21,000, the new levy would cost the owner about $78 a year. The current levy costs about $42.

“The extra millage is minimal,” Weber said. “Costs keep going up, and we have to find the funding somewhere.”

Promotional material for the levy says it will raise about $21,854 per year. Weber said the remainder after paying for lights will go to the general fund. Some of the costs to the general fund include the part-time Lowell Police Department, health services, parks and leisure activities, transportation and general government. The water and sewer operations and the village swimming pool are paid for through enterprise funds.

Also on the Nov. 7 ballot are two positions on the village council, but no candidates filed petitions to run.

“We’ll just reappoint people, if we can find them,” Weber said. “It’s getting harder as time goes along.”

James Booth, a former council member who owns four houses in Lowell and runs a trucking company, said he will reluctantly vote in favor of the levy but feels small communities like Lowell are getting a raw deal from the state government.

“The state keeps cutting back while they’ve got this huge surplus in Columbus,” he said, standing in front of his house Tuesday night. “Schools are being cut. Meanwhile, local taxpayers here have to pay more to keep the lights on.”

David Hanes, walking into a public meeting of the water board at the town hall next to the fire station on Walnut Street, said he doesn’t feel like he has enough details on the levy yet to make an informed decision.

“The sense I get is that there’s not a lot of information out,” he said.

Down the street, Lisa Huck was tending her lawn as the daylight began to fade.

“I used to be the village clerk, and I don’t know how we’ve survived this long,” she said. “You can only go so long on a shoestring.”

At a glance

¯Lowell tax levy proposal

¯On the ballot: Nov. 7

¯Purpose: Defray cost of street lighting, contribute to the general fund

¯Proposed levy: 3.75 mills

¯Projected revenue: $21,000 per year for five years

¯Cost to owner of an $80,000 house with a tax assessment of $21,000: $78 per year.