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Published: Friday, 2/22/2008

4 seek Ottawa County commissioner's seat

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Four Ottawa County residents will face off in the March 4 primary to fill a county commissioner seat that will be vacated by Democrat Carl Koebel at the end of his term in January.

Also on the ballot, voters in Genoa Area Local Schools must decide whether they want to pay for two new schools with help from the Ohio School Facilities Commission, while voters in Port Clinton City Schools will vote on a renewal levy.

In the commissioner primaries, Democrats Linda Hartlaub, 54, president of Port Clinton City Council, and Robert Krompak, 55, treasurer of the Ottawa County Democratic Party, will vie against one another.

Elmore Mayor Lowell Krumnow, 50, and Allen Township Trustee Mark Stahl, 46, will compete on the Republican ticket.

All four candidates said the county's struggling economy remains an issue for them.

Ms. Hartlaub said developing the county's economy, preserving its parks and Lake Erie shoreline, and helping county employees continue to provide quality services would be at the top of her priority list.

She wants to help Ottawa County "go green" by "looking for alternative energy sources, supporting any research projects that might take place in Ottawa County," and "helping the county recycle and use energy a little more wisely."

"A seat became open and I just want to be a part of that team," she said. "I'm a woman who's been in the private and public sector for over 40 years, providing social services to residents of Ottawa County. I just think I provide a unique perspective."

Ms. Hartlaub lives in Port Clinton and works as housing director for the Training and Development of Human Resources Enterprises in the city, which provides management assistance to nonprofits.

Her opponent, Mr. Krompak of Curtice, is the executive director of the Ottawa Community Development Corp., a private, nonprofit organization that serves 10 communities surrounding Toledo's Ottawa Park.

He said Ottawa County needs a change in leadership to grow the economy and help bring property taxes under control.

"We need a 12-month economy, not just a tourist economy," he said. "The burden for property taxes tends to fall on the residential homeowner here because we don't have the manufacturing tax base like Toledo, so our property taxes are higher."

Mr. Krompak said he would give county residents more control of their tax dollars if he is elected by involving them in the county budgeting process.

"We would have meetings with them when the budget is being worked on so citizens have an understanding of what the county is facing when it comes to budgeting and getting them involved in that planning," he said.

Republican candidate Mr. Stahl also said growing the economy is a priority, in addition to financial management and stewardship of county's funds.

He said he would work with state officials to secure as much money as possible to benefit the county's economy.

"I would partner with the businesses we have and try to create job training for those businesses so we have a well-rounded work force in Ottawa County," he said.

Mr. Stahl said he would prioritize senior citizen, social-service programs, such as Meals on Wheels, as part of the county's budget and work to develop more water and sewer lines.

"We would work with the cities to establish those funds, [whether] they would be through grants or state funding," he said.

Mr. Stahl is a self-employed accountant who owns Stahl and Associates in Williston.

His opponent, Mr. Krumnow, said he has been mayor of Elmore for 15 years and he wants to bring that experience to the county commissioner's office.

"I'd like to bring a common-sense approach to the office, plus have an open mind for new ideas and new directions," he said. "There's a parallel with running a town and running the county. The town has certain budgets, categories, and police departments, and so does the county."

Mr. Krumnow said he would work to keep a balanced budget during hard economic times.

"We have less money coming into the county from the state," he said. "We have to be a little more conservative to be sure where the budget is so we can maximize dollars there."

The Elmore mayor said Ottawa County communities are suffering because of the struggling job and housing markets and he believes he is the best candidate to help remedy those issues. "I think I bring quite a bit of experience to public office," he said. "I've also been in the private sector of manufacturing and I understand the needs and loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector."

Voters in Genoa Area Local Schools will decide Issue 2, which is a combination of two levies that would pay for construction of two schools and maintenance of the facilities.

The first is a 4.9-mill bond levy that would generate more than $13.6 million over 28 years. The second is a 0.5-mill continuing levy required for maintenance. It would generate about $85,000 annually.

After assessing the district's school buildings last year, the Ohio School Facilities Commission offered to pay 58 percent of the total $37.7 million cost to build an elementary and high school for the district if local taxpayers pay the remainder.

Combined, the two levies would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $151.32 a year for 28 years, school treasurer Bill Nye said. After that, the continuing levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $15.36 annually.

The school issue has been controversial in the village. Genoa Village Council passed a resolution Jan. 21 urging the school board to build an elementary school at the Brunner Elementary site, instead of the location the school board has planned outside Genoa.

Port Clinton City Schools voters must decide whether to approve a five-year, 2.97-mill renewal levy.

Superintendent Pat Adkins said the levy, which generates $1.7 million annually, costs the owner of a $100,000 home $103.95 per year to pay for operating expenses, including special education costs, transportation, textbooks, teacher salaries, and utilities.

It was originally passed five years ago at 3.89 mills, but increased property values means it takes less millage to generate $1.7 million, so the cost to individual taxpayers is actually less, Mr. Adkins said.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:

calcorn@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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