November 6, 2013;Columbus Dispatch
Meals on Wheels, which provides hot meals and other services to residents 60 or older, has got to be one of America’s most beloved community service programs. Most of them are provided by community-based nonprofit organizations under contract with local government agencies.
Voters in Fairfield County, Ohio, a suburban county just southeast of Columbus, renewed this past election day a five-year, 0.5-mill levy to support the program, showing faith in the local nonprofit running Meals on Wheels, even after its executive director was fired for hiring her son.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that 74 percent of voters approved the renewal, according to final, unofficial results from the county Board of Elections. It will generate about $1.6 million annually and cost residential property owners about $15 per $100,000 of valuation, the same as currently.
The vote came despite the fact that the trustees governing the local Meals on Wheels organization said they were investigating its operations after firing its executive director last month. They fired her after learning that she had paid her son $129,076 last year for computer and software-installation work for the group. That was a direct violation of anti-nepotism laws.
It’s unclear if voters were fully aware of the scandal, or if their support of the program or their faith in the organization as a local institution outweighed any qualms they might have had about continuing the tax. One hopes it might have been both factors.—Larry Kaplan