Tuscarawas County voters faced with many choices in May primary election

*This story first appeared in The Budget’s Feb. 21, 2018 Local Edition

By Beverly Keller
The Budget

Voters in Sugarcreek and across Tuscarawas County will have plenty of options on the ballot when the May 8 primary election comes to pass.

The biggest item on the ballot will be a half-percent temporary sales tax increase to fund a new radio system for police, fire and EMS groups. Tuscarawas County commissioners are seeking the sales tax increase to fund the purchase of an $11.5 million county radio system to replace the current one, which will reach its end of life on December 31.

If approved by voters, the sales tax would be collected for a period of two years, from October 1, 2018, until September 30, 2020. The increased tax would produce approximately $6.4 million per year. Those funds would be used to purchase the MARCS system radios along with needed software and related equipment to upgrade the 911 system.

“These funds shall not be used on any wages or benefits,” stated Chris Abbuhl, president of Tuscarawas County Commissioners.

He noted that requesting a sales tax increase of this nature is not something Tuscarawas County Commissioners have come into without a lot of thought, discussion and planning. “Through our actions, we hope that we have demonstrated to the public that our word can be trusted, and they will again trust us with their support regarding the critical nature of this project.”

In October 2017, Sheriff Orvis Campbell recommended entering into preliminary negotiations with MARCS in reference to the Motorola system. Through that process, thanks in part to Camp- bell and Jim Torch, the cost of the project was reduced by over $2.3 million. The group is also looking for outside grant funding through the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA), Homeland Security and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) as well as the Capital Budget.

The change will bring Tuscarawas County a technology that is used by 66 other Ohio counties as well as the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Garaway Local School District voters will have two levies on the ballot in front of them in May.

The first is a 5.8-mill substitute levy for basic expenses. This levy will not increase taxes already paid by a property owner.

The second is a 3-mill additional levy for emergency needs of the district. This is an additional tax. To put it in simplest terms, this would cost a property owner $3 more for every $1,000 their property is worth.

Residents of the New Philadelphia City School District will also see a levy on the ballot. The district is seeking the renewal of a 6.5-mill levy for emergency needs of the school system.

There are also several races with options on the state and county levels voters will see.

A total of six, five Republicans and one Democrat have filed petitions to run for the seat of State Representative in the 98th House District. The winner will follow in the footsteps of Representative Al Landis who is term-limited after serving members of the community for the past eight years. The district includes all of Tuscarawas County as well as part of Holmes County.

Candidates include:

  • Mark Behrendt of New Philadelphia
  • Shane Gunnoe of Dover
  • Larry V. Hawthorne of Mineral City
  • Brett Hillyer of Uhrichsville
  • Greg Ress of New Philadelphia
  • Jeremiah Johnson of Sugarcreek

A petition filed by Todd Beegle of Dover to run for this position was not certified by Tuscarawas County Board of Elections Director Allan Sayre. According to a statement from the Board of Elections, the petition from Beegle was rejected because it did not contain enough valid signatures.

Another county-wide race will be that of Tuscarawas County Commissioner. After years of service, Kerry Metzger has chosen not to run. Filing to fill that spot were Sam Hitchcock of New Philadelphia and Allen Landis of Dover.

Running unopposed in the primary are Larry Lindberg for the position of Tuscarawas County Auditor, as well as Jeff Cameron of Dover for the position of Tuscarawas County Coroner. This is an unexpired term.

Brad Hillyer is seeking election as county court judge for the Southern District.

Voters in New Philadelphia will have the opportunity to vote on the local alcohol sales option for Sundays for Sumo Hibachi Steakhouse.