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Published: Wednesday, 5/4/2005

Henry County denies fairground grandstand funds

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Henry County officials will have to find another way to pay for improvements at the county fairgrounds in Napoleon.

Voters yesterday rejected a 0.75-mill bond issue that would have raised more than $1.8 million over five years to build a grandstand to replace the aging wooden structure built in the early 1900s.

County fair officials also hoped to use the tax revenue to upgrade the electrical systems and renovate a pavilion at the fairgrounds for year-round use.

It's unusual for a county fair board to turn to taxpayers for support, and this was Henry County's first attempt.

In Hancock County, voters approved a request by the county's Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities to increase funding by 1.9 mills for five years. The agency that oversees Blanchard Valley Center said it needed the additional $3.08 million a year to offset a projected deficit of $1.5 million next year.

Superintendent Bryan Miller was grateful for the yes votes.

"We've been working hard to let everyone know what our tremendous need was for the levy, and we're just so thankful the public has responded this way,'' he said last night.

Blanchard Valley provides education, employment, and residential services for 436 children and adults in the county.

Last fall, the MRDD board proposed seeking a 2.8-mill additional levy, but at county commissioners' urging, the board delayed going to voters, made nearly $1 million in budget cuts, and reduced the millage request.

Mr. Miller said the levy's passage means Blanchard Valley will not have to eliminate community work programs at the Skyview Cafeteria in the Findlay Municipal Building and at the Fairfield Inn. It also saves the jobs of seven employees who were slated to be cut in July.

Putnam County voters agreed to replace a five-year, 0.3-mill operating levy for the Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Board. The levy has been in place since 1979.

The levy will generate $171,000 a year, or about $57,160 more than the current levy earns. The board provides mental health care and alcohol and drug prevention services and treatment through providers like Pathways Counseling Center in Ottawa.

The new levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $9.19 a year.

In Bowling Green, voters supported a proposal to replace a five-year, 1.4-mill levy that supports the city's parks and recreation department.

The levy will generate $633,000 a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $42.88 a year. Proceeds from the tax are intended for general operations and maintenance, but will not be used for operating the new community center that the city is building in conjunction with the Ohio National Guard and Wood Lane.

"I'm very grateful for the community support,'' said Parks Director Michelle Grigore. "This will make over 40 years of consistent support for parks and recreation and that's just outstanding."

Bellevue city voters renewed a five-year, 0.5 percent income tax, which will keep the municipal income tax at 1.5 percent.

Voters in Defiance agreed to increase the city income tax rate from 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent. The measure included the replacement of a 0.3 percent income tax that expires in June, 2007, and the addition of 0.2 percent.

Last year, voters turned down the city's request for an additional 0.3 percent income tax, which would have put the total municipal income tax at 1.6 percent.

In Wood County, voters in the Northwest Wood Ambulance District agreed to replace and decrease a three-year, 4-mill levy that provides ambulance and emergency medical service in Grand Rapids and Washington townships and the villages of Grand Rapids and Tontogany.

In Ottawa County's Clay Township, voters agreed to replace two levies for the police department: a continuing 1.5-mill replacement levy for full-time police protection and a 2.5-mill continuing levy to defray the cost of maintaining patrol officers, equipment, and supplies.

In Sandusky County, voters in Woodville Township narrowly approved a five-year, 3-mill additional levy for its volunteer fire department. It will generate $195,727 a year.

In Erie County, Perkins Township voters rejected a five-year, 3-mill operating levy intended to raise about $1.1 million a year and partially offset a feared drop in state funding.

Township trustees said that without the new tax dollars, the growing township south of Sandusky would be forced to lay off employees.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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