Allen County voters to decide on several levies and issues Tuesday

Apr. 29—ALLEN COUNTY — Voters in multiple communities in Allen County will have issues to decide on in the May election concerning levies for police and parks, aggregation agreements for gas and electric and liquor options for two establishments.

Two initiatives that all voters in the county will be seeing on their ballots are renewal levies for the Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District.

"One is an eight-year levy and one is a 10-year levy so that means there are no new taxes or millage being asked for," Tyler Black, the executive director the park district, said. "We've had them both for the last eight and 10 years respectively."

The levies are both set at a rate of 0.75 mills and help the park district maintain their standard of cleanliness, safety and progress to areas in need of updates.

"The park district has 15 parks and 20 facilities in total and that money is used for upkeep in all of them," Black said. "The big thing is that it contributes to salaries that keep the park district running and we are also looking at replacing some outdated facilities that have been around for 50 years at this point. Additionally, we have a really strong nature education department that helps with our mission of conservation. If the levies were to not pass, we would likely have to look at cutting back on some of the patrols that we do at night and leaving parks open in the evening increases the risk of vandalism."

Voters in Spencerville will be deciding on a levy to add a rate of 1.5 mills to go toward keeping the Spencerville Police Department fully staffed.

"It will be spent on man hours that keep us fully staffed and help cover the cost of keeping full-time employees nowadays," Chief Kyle Miller said.

The levy is notable, though, in that it was active specifically for the police department until 2017 when it was added to the general fund for the village. If voters pass this measure, though, the money would be redirected back to the police.

"Somehow it got overlooked in the mix and forgot to be renewed," Miller added. "But this one will be renewed every five years if it passes and it's not a new tax. The money that went into the general fund helped to cover various things, but if this passes, it would go strictly to the police department."

Miller also said that if the measure did not pass, a side-effect could be a loss of 24/7 coverage in the village.

"Obviously the county sheriff's office would still cover it, but we're hoping it doesn't come to that and I don't see it anywhere in the near future," he said. "But we're trying to get ahead of the ballgame."

In Bluffton and Lima, voters will decide on energy aggregation plans concerning gas and electricity, respectively.

"Energy aggregation harnesses the power of our collective community," Lima Mayor Sharetta Smith said through a spokesperson. "It allows residents and businesses to band together to purchase electricity at a lower rate than we could on our own and saves money on our electric bills. Allen County voters recently supported an electric aggregation program, and now the City of Lima has the same opportunity by voting for it on the May ballot."

Should the measures pass, the city of Lima will have the power to aggregate electricity within the city and agree to sell and purchase it to or from any residents who do not choose to opt out. The same proposal is being offered to voters in the village of Bluffton with natural gas.

In November 2022, Allen County voters passed a measure to aggregate gas in incorporated areas throughout the county.

Also in Bluffton, voters in one precinct will decide whether to approve a measure to permit the sale of alcoholic drinks at Luke's Bar and Grill at 133 N. Main St.

Likewise, voters in Sugar Creek Township will either approve or reject a measure to allow Uncle Al's Pizza at 4305 W. Lincoln Highway in Gomer to serve alcoholic drinks.

The date for this May special election is Tuesday, May 2. For more information or to find out where to vote, visit the Allen County Board of Elections.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.