It's a story with many twists and turns. Just when you think you understand and know what comes next, you're taken a new direction. Leaders in Defiance believed voters turned down a tax increase levy on November's ballot, canceling holiday celebrations in the city - but a Christmas miracle saved it.
Normally by the end of November, the streets of small town Defiance are decked out for the holidays: wreaths on light poles, lights covering the parks, and Santa's house on display in downtown. This year, with a Christmas spirit lacking, signs of holiday cheer were few and far between.
"It's a small town, but it's also a town that gets very passionate about certain topics and certain issues," said City Administrator Jeff Leonard.
Leonard said in this year's election, of the nearly 10,000 voters in Defiance, only about 3,000 went to the polls. One levy on the ballot would have raised taxes, or the town would have been forced to make cuts in safety forces, public access, ball field lights and Christmas decorations.
With the levy failing to pass - at first count - the city had to find a place to cut costs, which meant cutting decorations. But City Council wanted to do all it could by Dec. 6 to make sure Christmas decorations could still go up around town. Still, that meant cutting costs in other important areas.
"I'm certainly worried about our safety forces," said Leonard. "We have a very depleted force at this point in both divisions, police and fire. We want to be able to continue the service levels if we can."
City leaders thought there were about two dozen provisional ballots floating around that still needed to be counted. In fact, more than 350 uncounted provisional ballots from early voting were found in the board of elections office.
Just 22 provisional ballots Wednesday night made the decision to cut Christmas. Needing 19 more votes to pass the levy and avoid losing holiday cheer, the levy actually passed by 28 votes.
The Grinch couldn't stop this small town's Christmas. Defiance will be decking the halls this year after all.
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