Sistersville residents to vote on five-year levy
On Tuesday, Feb. 3, Sistersville citizens will be returning to the polls to approve or disapprove a special five-year levy that will fund the park, library, fire department, and street maintenance.
Despite the title of “special,” the levy has been on the ballot for over 25 years.
“The rates have been the same for – some people say 20-plus, some say closer to 30 – at least 20-plus years,” said Sistersville City Clerk Diane Mace.
“We’re looking at 25-30 years of the rates being the same,” added Sistersville Mayor Dave Fox. “That takes you back to the 70’s and 80’s.”
The levy rates are as follows: Class 1 property will be 6.25 cents, Class 2 property will be 12.50 cents, and Class 4 property will be 25 cents.
The needs for the levy are broken down into four areas: park, library, fire department, and street maintenance.
“This money goes to the park; that helps keep the pool and the Wilison Family Center open for things like kids’ basketball,” explained Mace. “It helps keep the library open, paying utility and building costs. Though we have a volunteer fire department, you still have your trucks, your gas, your building costs, so (the levy) helps with that. And it is also goes (to) the street department, which a lot of it is put towards streetlights, purchasing any equipment that we need to maintain the streets.”
The levy, if approved, will begin July 1, 2009, through July 1, 2013. Over the life of the levy, the rates have never gone up or down.
“That’s just the rate that has worked well I’m assuming,” said Mace. “Right now council has decided to keep it the same. It’s worked well. We realize that there is a lot on people right now.”
Fox agreed, saying that raising the rates right now would be a financial hardship on city’s citizens.
“I can’t tell you why they haven’t changed since I’ve been (mayor), but the reason we’re not going to change them is because we’ve had to increase other rates,” stated Fox. “With the economical times being so hard right now, we’re going to try to squeeze by with this.”
Despite keeping the rates the same, raising them at some point is going to be necessary, says Fox.
“They certainly need to be raised, but we’re not going to do that; not right now,” said Fox. “Someday they’ll have to be raised, just as everything has to be raised. None of the fees are high enough. If the city was smart in the beginning they would have had a cost of living raise every year just to maintain things with the cost increases. Some places do, but they never have here.”
The city administration is hoping for a large voter turnout and that city citizens will approve the levy once again.
“It’s very vital,” said Mace. “The pool, of course, does not make enough to maintain itself. We rely on it to maintain the park. We would pretty much have to gate the park because we wouldn’t have enough to pay for the security lighting and all the necessary items to run the pool and to run the high school, which is used for different activities for the kids. That’s what this helps pay for. Without it, I don’t know where the money would come from to pay for utilities for the library.”
“It’s got to pass, because you’re going to lose your park, your pool, your gymnasium,” exclaimed Fox. “Your fire department runs off of it, you’re library runs off of it, and your streets maintenance runs off of it. You’d end up losing some of those things. Though you have a street fee, this helps out.”
“They have always voted for it before, and again we didn’t increase it. We left it the same, but that money needs to be there.”