Remember taxpayers

It seems as if every time we turn around we are being asked to pay more for something.

At least one local school district seeks additional funding from taxpayers in nearly every primary and general election. Some even hold special elections due to the urgent need for money to cover some expense, to balance the budget or to launch a sports project.

The burden extends to rates and fees as well. Belmont County commissioners and some municipalities are considering increased license plate fees to fund things such as road repairs.

At the same time, customers of the Belmont County Sanitary Sewer District are being told a rate hike will be necessary in order to pay for repairs and upgrades that have been neglected in the past.

That is why a recent decision by the Belmont County Board of Health marked a refreshing change from the norm.

During their most recent meeting, board members were asked to consider seeking voter approval of a property tax levy to support the Health Department. Deputy County Health Commissioner Robert Sproul suggested a 0.75-mill levy be placed on the ballot.

Sproul said additional funding is needed to supplement support from local government entities in the county.

But several board members cited concerns about taxpayers’ financial health.

Revaluations of property in the county, set to be completed in January, could mean very substantial property tax increases, they noted.

And member Dwight Jenewein, noting that, “our budget is OK for this year,” said there is no rush to get a levy request on the ballot.

Two members, Joel Braido and Irene Louda, expressed concern about costly state requirements for the local health department.

“I think we’re overtaxed now,” Braido said.

Annoyance over unfunded mandates from state and federal governments is common among local officials everywhere.

Knowing that local funds will have to be used to cover the cost, bureaucrats in Columbus and Washington often seem eager to pile new requirements on local entities.

At some point, health board members may have to consider asking property owners for help. It appears that will not happen this year, but when and if it does, voters should bear in mind the board’s conscientious reluctance to take any more than absolutely necessary from taxpayers.