The Athens County Commissioners announced this month that it will be hosting two public hearings to help pass a five-year levy for Athens County 911.

The levy would be structured as a five-year, 0.25 percent increase to the county’s sales tax.

Public hearings to discuss the tax will be held via Zoom. The first will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 31 and the second will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4. The Zoom link is: https://zoom.us/j/358908636.

This is the second attempt for this percentage of sales tax levy in as many years, but the proceeds will not be split as they were for the 2019 levy attempt.

Athens County Commissioner Charlie Adkins noted that it’s the same percentage, just all the funds will be directed toward the 9-1-1 office. Last year’s levy was split: 50 percent was for 9-1-1, a quarter was for the county’s general fund and the last quarter would have gone to the sheriff’s office.

Athens County 911 has increased its dispatching services over the years, and officials have said it needs more revenue to handle this and to pay for needed infrastructure projects.

If passed, this will raise the Athens County sales tax to 1.5 percent, the maximum allowed in Ohio.

“The bottom line in this is without this we are not going to be able to continue the upgrades and keep the system where it is,” Adkins said. “We have one of the best 9-1-1 systems in the county, and to keep that, this is where we’re at.”

Sales tax estimates for the county have taken a dive due to economic impacts of COVID. On Tuesday, July 21, Athens County Auditor Jill Thompson told the Commissioners that she is concerned about the upcoming year’s budget, as the usual amount of carryover funds, over $3 million, is not going to be possible.

“Right now, our goal is to meet certifications so we don’t have to cut budgets this year,” she explained.

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