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Your local control will be decided in this election
By LYNDSEY TETER, Commentary Editor
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 3:09 PM EDT

With less than a week before the 2007 General Election, voter guides and resources are piling up in most of Central Ohio.

The combined efforts of Franklin County's Auditor and Board of Elections offices offers enough to make any informed taxpayer drool.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, local voters will determine the fate of 12 proposed property tax levies.

Six Central Ohio school districts will seek approval of a combined $17.7 million in new tax dollars annually to fund operations, including districts we cover in Canal Winchester, Pickerington and Upper Arlington. New Albany is requesting more than $34 million in bond monies.

A much-needed 0.9-mill replacement and increase levy is on all Franklin County ballots for the Franklin County Senior Options, and will generate $25.6 million over five years.

And perhaps most daunting, voters will choose among more than 230 names on the ballot for their local city, village and township offices. Another 68 names will be thrown in the mix for seats on local school boards.

Our readers in Delaware, Fairfield, Licking and Union counties will choose among more than 200 city, village and school board candidates, and many will see names and issues overlapping from Franklin County.

Ultimately, the winning names on the ticket will make decisions about millions of taxpayer dollars. They'll determine how your trash is collected, how your kids get to school, whether your street will be paved and whether sewage will back up into your basement -- or what to do about it when it does.

They'll determine what jobs and stores will move in to your town, how that field across the street will be developed, the number officers who patrol your street and those leaves piling up in your yard? -- they'll probably make some sort of decision about those, too.

Despite this, officials estimate only 26 percent of Franklin County's registered 775,498 voters will show up to the polls next week. Compare that to the 2004 presidential election, where 63 percent of voters showed at the polls, or even the governor's race last year, when half the registered voters earned their stickers. A quarter of the pool is a dismal showing when you consider how close to daily life these politicos will be.

Why is it that the closer ballot issues are to home, the less likely we are to show up at the polls? Dinner is a very local decision. When the family decides to go out to eat, is the restaurant chosen based on one-quarter of the population? If Billy wants to drive-through White Castle, do the rest of the family members stay silent? Probably not. And you shouldn't sit quietly while others make the decision on Election Day, either. Don't look on helplessly as your city drives through White Castle.

And if you're worried that you haven't been following elections closely enough to make a decision, county officials have again rolled out the red carpet to assist voters as they're making their way to the polls Nov. 6.

Before casting your vote, be sure to check out franklincountyauditor.org, where voters can determine exactly how much their tax bill will increase should a levy or bond issue pass. We report the annual increase per $100,000 of property value, but, for the fourth year in a row, Auditor Joe Testa's office offers a customized estimate for each land parcel.

For a list of local candidates, visit the 2007 Elections Information link on the board of election's main page, vote.franklincountyohio.gov/boe. Delaware, Licking, Union and Fairfield counties offer lists of candidates online, but their auditors have yet to offer tax calculation services. If anything, educated Franklin county voters should cast their ballots just to mock residents of surrounding counties for their lack of online tools.

As a resident of Knox County, I'm not yet sure whether they allow us to vote. I think whoever brings the most jugs of whiskey to the town hall wins, or some similar policy. But even those who live outside Franklin County can use the BOE's Web site to their advantage. For a little fun, check out the "Check your Registration" link on the start page. There, you can type in familiar names of co-workers, friends and high-rollers to find out who is registered Democrat or Republican.

The gasps heard from surrounding cubicles confirmed what a fun exercise this can be in our newsroom. Also, so much for the liberal media.

Copyright © 2007 - Columbus Local News



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