Voters say no to levies in Wells Township

STEUBENVILLE — Wells Township voters for the third consecutive election defeated levies that aimed to make up the loss of funding from the devaluation of the Cardinal Power Plant.

There were two 3-mill levies on Tuesday’s election ballot for the police and street departments.

According to unofficial results from the Jefferson County Board of Elections, the police levy was defeated by a vote of 267-252 and the road levy was defeated by a vote of 271-247.

Joe Matthews, township fiscal officer, said the village lost $212,000 in 2018 and another $665,000 this year with the Buckeye Power tax devaluation at the Cardinal Plant.

Each of the levies would have generated $362,000 a year.

Matthews, who is retiring at the end of the month as fiscal officer after 25 years, said the township has to keep trying to get levies approved.

“The amount of money we have is nowhere near adequate to serve the people. That is too bad. The Cardinal Plant paid one-half of the bill for 50 years. The public has to step up, and they won’t do it,” he said.

Voters twice defeated a 1.2-mill levy in 2018 for current expenses.

Township officials have had to make cuts this year to balance the budget. The recreation department won’t open the swimming pool this summer, Matthews said.

The police department laid off two officers. There are currently three officers, including the chief.

Matthews said the police department several years ago got a levy approved and was able to have around-the-clock patrols.

He said that has been eliminated with the loss of funding.

The road maintenance department laid off two workers last year.

Matthews said all projects are on hold, with the township just maintaining roads.

Ohio’s recently approved gasoline and diesel tax increase will provide the street department an additional $50,000 a year, but it doesn’t come close to replacing the $362,000 the department lost because of the power plant devaluation, he said.

He said the township will have to continue to curtail services.

“We are running on half the money we had. It will be difficult,” he said.

The board of elections reported there was a nearly 29 percent voter turnout, with 520 ballots cast out of 1,800 registered voters.

The board of elections will meet on May 22 to certify the results of the election.