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Published: Thursday, 2/10/2005

Board weighs options after tax issues go down

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Although Alex Maze said he had a feeling the two Lake Local School District funding requests would be shot down in Tuesday's election, the high school junior said he was still disappointed when he heard the final results.

"I was real broken-hearted," the 17-year-old student said.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected both an emergency property tax levy and an income tax, according to unofficial results.

The 0.5 percent income tax failed by a little more than a 3-1 ratio, with 783 approving the tax and 2,547 rejecting the tax.

The property tax, estimated to be equivalent to 8.75 mills, failed by almost a 3-1 ratio, with 927 voting for the tax and 2,434 voting against the tax. One mill equals $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Statewide, Ohio school districts had 13 bond issues, 52 levies, and nine income tax proposals before voters on Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State's office. As they did in the majority of school districts throughout the state, Lake's measures failed. Officials from only a handful of districts said their measures were approved.

Lake's income tax would have generated an estimated $800,000 annually, while the property tax would have produced $2 million a year. If the measures had passed, they would have been in effect for five years but would have put the district back in the black only through the 2007-08 school year.

The outcome for both taxes was the same for previous property tax and income tax funding requests that Lake officials sought in August and November, respectively.

After voters defeated an 11-mill property tax in August, the school board decided to cut sports and other extracurricular activities. All were reinstated after upset residents and students appeared before the school board and promised to approve a 1.5 percent income tax on Nov. 2. Despite an organized campaign effort, the income tax failed by a more than 2-1 ratio.

Superintendent Paul Orshoski said the board of education plans to meet at 4 p.m. today to discuss whether to place another funding request on the May ballot.

Mr. Orshoski said he also plans to share with the board his list of cuts for next year - which may include sports, extracurricular activities, and bus transportation - if the district cannot pass a funding request before the 2005-06 school year.

"What we can contractually do, we'll look at doing," he said.

Lake has already imposed pay freezes for administrators, closed the high school library, and ordered other cutbacks to save money.

Mr. Maze said he is involved in football, hockey, Spanish club, and art club at Lake High School. He worries that sports and other extracurricular activities may once again be cut so the district can stave off a budget deficit that will start at $1.4 million next school year and increase after that.

Contact Erika Ray at:

eray@theblade.com

or 419-724-6088.



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