Taxes are bad but Liberty roads are worse


In the words of our newly appointed fiscal officer in Liberty: ”I am not a tax-and-spend guy.” Well, neither am I, Mr. Shelton, but even he recognizes that there is simply no other way to address the deplorable state of Liberty’s roads.

Clearly, Liberty residents do not want nor deserve higher taxes. We have many residents who cannot afford it; citizens behind this levy proposal emphatically embrace that reality. But, we also embrace a dire set of circumstances with many moving parts to consider. Let’s begin with a couple basic truths:

1,Services received by Liberty residents were designed and voted upon long ago, and they are expensive.

2. The funding mix for Ohio townships has been materially impacted by reductions from the state. Consequently, there is less money which, in our case, translates into no money for resurfacing streets.

Perhaps the citizens of Liberty need to revisit the nature and breadth of the services received to ”right-size” our tax burden. However, that issue and our road situation are mutually exclusive, at least for the time being.


1. Many of our roads are long overdue for resurfacing. No one seems to dispute this. The dilemma has extended well beyond community pride to one of safety.

Observing vehicles dodging hazardous road conditions has become the norm in Liberty, as it has in other Mahoning Valley communities. It is only a matter of time before we have injuries or worse. Our pedestrians, runners and bicyclists are particularly vulnerable.

2. Perhaps of lesser importance, their marketability and the beating that our vehicles are taking.

3. Your specific road may not be in bad shape today. Consequently, you many not feel obliged to vote for this levy, but please beware, all roads deteriorate over time, and there will not be any funding for your street when (not if) it demands attention.

4. Matching funds are available. This is our money and, yes, we have to go through some hoops to get it but let’s be smart about it. Four streets have already been approved for a 40 percent match, but only if we pass a levy.

Many Trumbull County communities have already faced this unpleasant reality and dealt with it by passing levies.

Here are some basic facts about the proposed 1.25-mill levy for Liberty:

1. One mile of resurfacing requires about $100,000. The levy will raise approximately $266,000 per year. With a 40 percent match, we can leverage that to $375,000. Over the five-year term of the levy, approximately 30 percent of all Liberty roads can be resurfaced (if deemed necessary) or roughly 18 miles.

2. The levy will last for five years and will cost a homeowner with a $100,000 home about $44 per year or 12 cents per day.

3. These new funds can only be used for roads.

4. This proposal is entirely citizen-motivated and citizen-led. Township Trustees and the fiscal officer have unanimously endorsed the proposal.

So, what happens after five years? I suspect that unless global warming extends the life of roads in northeast Ohio or the external funding mix shifts in our favor or Liberty residents elect to realign how the receive other township services, we’ll need to continue a levy at some level.

Obviously, roads need constant attention and consistent funding. This is not a quick fix, but it is one that must be faced now.

I believe that the Liberty Road Department has done a marvelous job when you consider the extremely limited resources. They are a small, five-man unit that is charged with supporting 60 miles of roadway. Let’s give them the tools to do the job right.

Let’s protect our citizens and our property. Let’s say ”no” to potholes and vote ”yes” to the proposed levy on May 6.

Steven Lewis