The tuberculosis levy, a renewal of a levy that is already in place supporting Athens’ tuberculosis program has passed with 57.04% of residents voting in favor.
The tuberculosis program, offered by the City-County Health Department, identifies people who have been exposed to tuberculosis and provides testing to determine if the disease is active or dormant. If a person is infected with the disease and does not have insurance to pay for medication, the program provides treatment free of charge.
Now that the levy has passed, the city will continue to support that program.
“There actually used to be a specific tuberculosis clinic, and it is a specific portion of funding for the health department,” Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said. “It was a renewal levy, so it’s just to maintain the level of funding that we currently had.”
If the levy were to fail, it would have made it more difficult to administer the program and pay for antibiotics that treat active tuberculosis, James Gaskell, the Athens County health commissioner, said.
“This is a very important levy and a very strong program,'' Gaskell said. “We are lucky to be one of the few counties that have that program.”
Eva Holtkamp, president of the College Democrats of Ohio, thinks that the levy was important for Athens because it's such a rural area.
“It’s important to provide people in rural areas with those resources because it’s harder to get to hospitals in rural areas,” Holtkamp said. “Those general resources are really important for people in rural Appalachia.”
Newly elected councilwoman Beth Clodfelter, D-At Large, thinks that the several levies that passed will result in a stronger community as a whole.
“I think it’s really wonderful that the people of Athens supported these important levy renewals,” Clodfelter said. “There were so many good causes being considered, and I think we're going to have a healthier, stronger and fairer community as a result of these levies being passed.”