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Published: Tuesday, 8/5/2003

Voters ready to decide fate of TPS levy renewal

BY FRITZ WENZEL
BLADE POLITICAL WRITER

Voters in the Toledo Public School District go to the polls today to determine the fate of a 6.5-mill, five-year levy for current expenses that district officials say is critical for the continued operation of the district.

Opponents say the district has performed poorly and does not deserve for the levy to pass. The request is for renewal of an existing levy, which raises $16 million per year.

If voters approve the levy, taxes will not increase.

Known as Issue 1 on the ballot, the measure has generated significant interest among voters, who have requested an unusually large number of requests for absentee ballots, said Joe Kidd, Lucas County board of elections director.

Mr. Kidd projected that 25 percent of registered voters would turn out to the polls.

“That's a good 10 points higher than most recent special elections,” Mr. Kidd said. “The increased activity has been mainly in the [Toledo] school district.”

“Where voters feel like they have something to gain or lose, that's when they tend to show up at the polls,” Mr. Kidd said. “This measure has voters interested. It has gotten a lot of news coverage, even though it is not on a regular Election Day.”

Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Paper ballots will be used.

If voters reject the measure, district Superintendent Eugene Sanders said in a recent news conference that he will urge the school board to resubmit the request to voters in the November election. The current levy expires at the end of the year.

Originally approved in November, 2000, the levy has generated about $16 million annually for the 35,000-student district. Because the issue is a renewal and not a replacement, if approved it would be collected based on the 2000 property values for the district. That means it would generate $16 million as it did when first passed.

A mill is $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

Voters in five other jurisdictions will decide money measures today.

Issue 2 will ask Richfield Township voters to approve a bond issue to pay for construction and furnishing of a fire station. The 2.84-mill levy would pay back bonds worth $1.4 million over 20 years.

A similar measure was defeated by one vote in a special election in May.

The levy would pay for a station on township-owned land on Sylvania Avenue between Washburn and Richfield Center roads. It is the third time the township has asked voters for the money to build the station.

Otsego Local School District is asking voters to approve Issue 3, a bond issue proposal worth $25.5 million to help pay for school construction projects. The 9.14-mills levy would run 28 years.

The money would pay for a middle school-high school building on the Tontogany campus that includes an 800-seat auditorium, a competition-sized high school gym, and slight modifications to the current high school that would house elementary pupils.

Similar bond issues have been turned down in two elections.

If the measure is approved, the district would be in line to receive $22.3 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. The local share would be $3.2 million. Otsego covers portions of Lucas, Henry, and Wood counties.

Issue 4 asks voters in the Swanton Local School District to approve a 1 percent permanent income tax starting Jan. 1 to help fund operations. It is projected to raise $1.76 million per year. In May, voters rejected a 5.5-mill levy request that would have raised $995,000 a year for the district.

The Swanton school district includes voters in Lucas and Fulton counties.

Just west of Swanton, voters in the Pike-Delta-York school district will consider a 4.5-mill, five-year levy for operations. The levy would raise $632,000 a year for the district.

In Port Clinton, residents of the city school district will consider a 3.89-mill, five-year levy for operations. It would raise $1.7 million for the district.



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