Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Warren Co. considering senior levy

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — In a dramatic shift, Warren County commissioners suggested Tuesday they would support a levy to help elderly residents remain in their homes.

        “No one in this country, no one in this county, should have basic needs that are unmet,” Commissioner Mike Kilburn said.

        Warren County Community Services estimates it will need $2 million next year to deliver meals to the homebound and help more than 600 seniors who need a hand with housekeeping, personal care and other services. Only about half of them are receiving services now, according to Community Services. The rest have been on a waiting list for an average of 27 months.

        “There are many people who seriously need services who are never going to be served” at the current funding level, said Larry Sargeant, director of Community Services.

        Neighboring counties such as Butler, Hamilton and Clermont all have levies for elderly services, but the Warren County commissioners have resisted the move, instead funding Community Services themselves.

        The new request — more than double the planned county contribution of about $800,000 — and recent state funding cuts elsewhere may force a change, Commissioner Pat South said.

        “The county cannot continue picking up the entire tab,” she said. “I think it is time that your board begin looking at a levy.”

        The levy would likely be on the May ballot, so even if it passed, it would not begin generating money until 2003, officials said. In the meantime, Mr. Sargeant said, the agency will need about $1 million just to keep serving current clients.

        In other business, commissioners continued discussions with a committee investigating ways to preserve farmland. They agreed to pursue some no-cost ideas, such as seeking countywide cooperation on growth issues and making sure farmers' needs are factored into road improvements.

        They were leery, however, of a recommendation that the county allow houses to be built closer together.

        “Without density, I need more acreage to build the same number of homes,” Mark Stenger, a builder and committee member, told the commissioners.

        But Commissioner Larry Crisenbery said higher density means more kids, which means more crowded schools.

        “If I had my way, we'd have 10-acre lots,” he said.


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