‘Our roads are falling apart,’ but Ross Twp. unlikely to seek levy this year

Ross Twp. trustees have discussed asking voters for more money for roads, but now officials say it is unlikely going to be a ballot question this year.

The trustees got a first glimpse of the $3.6 million 2019 spending plan last week, and Trustee Tom Willsey said while they have serious needs — rapidly deteriorating roads — he doesn’t believe a levy request will come this year.

“Our roads are falling apart,” Willsey said. “Obviously if we were going to do anything that drastic (ask for a levy) we’d go out and get the feel of the public and see what their take is on it. We’re not anywhere close to that kind of a decision.”

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Township Administrator Bob Bass said their finances can handle routine maintenance but increasingly repair and restoration needs have been cropping up, like the $321,000 project to fix Kirchling Road that is in the proposed budget for this year.

Requests from the four departments — administration, fire, police and roads — total $3.6 million versus revenues estimated at $3.1 million. He said they maintain a structurally balanced budget every year, meaning they don’t dip into reserves to balance the budget, so cuts are coming.

“Sometimes you don’t always get what you want,” Bass said. “From an operational standpoint we’re still in good shape because we mandate from the departments that it be done that way. Where we’re starting to see things become problematic for us is the road department, we’re spending far more than income, but that’s because we have a road that has to be repaired this year.”

Other big ticket items on the proposed budget include moving up a $550,000 fire engine replacement from the 2020 capital project list and ballistic vests for active shooter situations. Bass said many fire departments are buying protective gear in case they have to enter a scene that might not be totally secure. The police want to buy a $50,000 cruiser.

Willsey said local government fund cuts the state has made through the years have crippled them financially, but after attending Gov. Mike DeWine’s inauguration last week, he has hope.

“One of his things he touched on was helping local governments,” Willsey said. “I think everyone that’s in the legislature knows local government took an unfair hit and I think there’s a lot of people that would like to see that restored somewhat back to what it was. But I’m not sure they know how to do it yet.”

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