Xenia voters to decide on new street tax

City officials in Xenia say there are not enough funds available to address all of the city’s street maintenance needs, so they’re giving voters an opportunity to change that on Election Day.

Issue 11 on the Nov. 6 ballot for Xenia voters is a 10-year, 3.5-mill levy that would lead to $1.3 million in new revenue slated for street improvements. The new tax would cost homeowners about $123 a year on every $100,000 worth of property.

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If voters approve the levy, the city will be able to “pave more streets a lot faster and get more miles done,” Assistant City Manager Jared Holloway said.

If the issue fails, no cuts in services or layoffs of employees are planned, he said.

“If it fails, we still have money set aside for streets. We plan to continue what we have been doing the past several years — paving all the streets we can with the funds we have,” Holloway said.

The tax request comes after a committee of community volunteers met earlier this year to discuss strategies for putting more city funds toward improving roads.

The city council voted 5-2 in July to place the levy on the November ballot after the committee recommended increasing revenue through a new tax.

Mayor Sarah Mays said she voted in favor of the ballot measure as “an option” to let voters decide.

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“Now the citizens have a chance to vote on this option and help find a solution,” Mays said.

Councilman Dale Louderback, a self-described anti-“tax and spender,” voted against the ballot measure, but he said he’s “glad it’s up to the voters.”

“I think we will be OK if it doesn’t pass,” Louderback said. “Our streets are not perfect. But neither are other cities’ (streets). What we need to do in Xenia is grow our tax base, first of all. That means attracting good-paying jobs.”

Xenia became a city in 1803, and the age of the city’s street infrastructure is showing, with many roads in dire need of repairs and new pavement, officials said.

It’s a $30 million problem, City Manager Brent Merriman previously said, but the city is only able to set aside $500,000 annually for street maintenance, plus about $300,000 that comes from excise and fuel taxes.

City spokesperson Lee Warren said the council is trying to be proactive in putting the issue before voters and city officials continue to look at grant-funding opportunities.

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“We drive these roads too,” Warren said of city officials. “We want to have decent streets … but it’s a team effort between the citizens and the city.”

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