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Published: Wednesday, 9/28/2005

Genoa: Smaller levy to be asked

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Genoa Area Local Board of Education will ask voters in November to pass a tax levy with a smaller millage amount than the one that was defeated in May.

Voters will consider a new three-year, 3.9-mill levy for current operating expenses for the district to avoid a projected deficit because revenue has not caught up with rising expenses, Superintendent Dennis Mock said.

If approved, the levy would raise about $600,000 a year for the Ottawa County district, and would cost $119 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home. Genoa Area schools serve Genoa, Clay Center, Clay Township, and most of Allen Township.

"If we continue the way we are with continuing forecasting, enrollment, and state funding, we will be in a deficit in 2009," Treasurer Mike Weis said.

The last time the district was on the ballot was in May with a three-year, 4.9-mill renewal tax levy for operating expenses that failed by 314 votes.

The last time voters passed a levy was November, 2004, when they approved a five-year, 5-mill renewal levy for operations.

But Mr. Mock said the school needs new money to bring back some of the $1.4 million in programs that have been cut over the past two years after voters defeated a 5.25-mill continuing operating levy in August, 2004, that would have raised $787,000 a year. "The biggest priority is to return high school busing," he said. "We want to return it in December, 2005, if the levy is passed."

He said he would also like to trim K-12 and pay-to-participate fees, reopen the elementary libraries, return selected co-curricular programs, and return to the similar starting and ending times for the elementary school buildings.

If the levy is not supported, he said the district would have to look at tweaking or eliminating more programs, such as the intervention programs and the all-day, every-day kindergarten program.

"Right now we've made cuts that have affected the classroom, and further cuts, if this levy is not supported, will affect our status on the Ohio report card, which is effective," Mr. Mock said.

Along with the levy, three names will appear on the November ballot in an uncontested race for the three school board seats that expire at the end of the year. A political newcomer will join two incumbents on the board.

Board member George Cicak decided not to run for a third term, while Ernie Cottrell and Alan Brown are seeking a second, four-year term.

Mr. Cottrell, 44, a Genoa attorney and this year's school board president, said he feels the need to serve one more term.

"We have come a long way with the financial crunch all the schools are in, and I want to see that continued for another four years," he said. "But that's going to be the end of my desire to be on the board. It will be eight years, and I think that's plenty of time for any one individual. I think you need new ideas and new blood on a school board."

Mr. Brown, 43, a finance director for the Oracle Corporation and this year's school board vice president, said he's running for his second term to continue to maintain the district's positive progress.

"I think I can provide value to continue to provide progress in Genoa," he said.

Board newcomer Mitchell Hoyles, 45, a funeral director for the Robinson-Walker Funeral Home in Genoa, said he has never been an elected official, but feels it's important to be involved.

"I think it's every community member's job or duty to contribute to the good of the community in whatever way that you can," he said, "no matter who you are or what you do."



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