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Published: Thursday, 2/9/2006

Lake schools puts bid for operating levy on May ballot

Banking on new development and construction, the Lake Local Board of Education unanimously voted last night to place an operating levy with a stated millage on the May ballot.

Voters will be asked to consider a five-year, 8.75-mill tax levy on May 2. If approved, interim treasurer Jack Coffman said the levy would raise just under $2 million a year and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $268 annually.

Board members at a special meeting decided against placing an emergency property-tax levy on the ballot because by going that route, they would not have the opportunity to collect funding from new development. A levy with a stated millage would allow funding to increase with new construction.

"We're betting on the community here with growth and economic development," board President Eric Hirzel said.

Lake Local, which includes Lake Township, Millbury and Walbridge villages, and a tiny portion of Ottawa County, needs to pass a levy this year to collect the new money next year.

Since August, 2004, voters have defeated the district's last six attempts for new money to keep the schools operating, leaving the district facing a deficit of more than $1.5 million by the end of 2008.

Mr. Hirzel said he believes the outcome for this levy will be different because he's seeing a more positive effort from village and township officials to bring more businesses to the area.

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