1994: First Aging Services Levy
By 1994, SourcePoint’s staff and board had spent countless hours listening to the community. After many meetings and forums with community leaders, older adults and their families, service providers, elected officials, and others, a consensus developed around a plan of action. This plan depended upon community support of a local property tax levy, which would be devoted to services for local seniors. In the fall of 1994, our first 0.5 mill levy passed by 58 percent of the vote. Resources became available in 1995 and work began to turn our dreams into reality.
State law requires that senior services levies last no more than five years, so SourcePoint went back to voters in 1999, 2003, 2008, and 2013. The current senior services levy of 1.2 mills was approved by 68 percent of voters and this funding will expire in 2018.
While we had a very good plan for service development, the truth is that when it came to passing a levy we really had no idea what to do or how to do it; we had to learn on the fly.
We were able to get on the ballot in 1994 through a citizens initiative petition drive. We needed to gather about 5,000 signatures, so that summer we spent just about every week night and weekend knocking on doors and attending community gatherings to collect signatures.
While it was a grueling laborious effort, the process of talking to so many people and hearing their stories gave us hope that people really understood the need. We didn’t learn that we would be on the ballot until late August and this left little time to mount much of a levy campaign other than through dozens of speaking engagements and word of mouth.
On election night we had no idea what to expect but when the final tally came in all the work that we had done paid off with the passage of the communities first senior services levy. After that it quickly became a mad dash to expand services, build a coordinated system of care, and fulfill our promises. From the beginning, this was a real grassroots effort and that aspect of our success remains true today.