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Published: Wednesday, 8/6/2008

3 of 7 school levies pass in NW Ohio; Anthony Wayne voters OK renewal, but defeat new levy

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Voters in the Anthony Wayne Local Schools approved an operating levy renewal yesterday, but also rejected a request for new funding that officials said was necessary if the district was to be removed from the state s fiscal caution list.

The requests were for two 3.3-mill levies that would raise a total of $6 million annually for five years.

Anthony Wayne Superintendent John Granger said last night that the failed levy would mean larger classes in all grades and fewer course offerings.

We are not going to fill 15 teaching positions. The bottom line is, the Anthony Wayne schools will have maximum class size in every grade. We went backwards today, Mr. Granger said.

His district was one of six in northwest Ohio with levy requests in the special election yesterday. Among the others, only two others passed, while the remainder of the district s levies were defeated.

In Anthony Wayne, the successful levy was a renewal of a tax that brings in $3 million a year and expires at the end of 2008. The levy request that was defeated was a new tax that would have raised an additional $3 million annually.

Anthony Wayne Local Schools superintendent John Granger, left, reads the results of the levies as Jim Hutchinson, co-chairman of the levy campaign committee, and Jim Fritz, right, director of curriculum instruction, listen at the Whitehouse Inn.
Anthony Wayne Local Schools superintendent John Granger, left, reads the results of the levies as Jim Hutchinson, co-chairman of the levy campaign committee, and Jim Fritz, right, director of curriculum instruction, listen at the Whitehouse Inn.
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Voters in the district defeated two previous levy requests in less than 18 months.

Anthony Wayne s levy campaign had generated some opposition in recent weeks and months, with some local residents saying they didn t have additional money to give to their schools during a time of high gas prices, layoffs, a home foreclosure crisis, and an overall struggling economy.

I still think a quality education can be achieved by spending less money, one opponent, Steve Magnatta, said last week.

If the second tax had been approved, residents would have seen a tax increase of $101 per year on a $100,000 home.

A mill equals $1 per $1,000 of a property s assessed value.

Mr. Granger said the school district has cut $2 million from its operating budget since 2006 and has left 29 positions vacant to save money.

He said the school district has 17 vacant teaching positions, and had said that if the new levy would fail, those positions would have to be covered by internal transfers, which means fewer teachers and more students.

In the Lake Local School District, a request for a 5.63-mill continuing operating levy easily passed.

It will generate $1.3 million annually and replace a five-year, 6.5-mill levy. It will not increase or decrease taxes.

Lake Superintendent Jim Witt said adoption of the levy would facilitate his district s ambition to improve its Ohio ranking from effective to excellent, the state s highest.

We know that in these economic times, people could turn their backs on us. We re really thankful that they chose to support our kids, Mr. Witt said.

School officials have said that about 85 percent of the annual revenue will go toward teacher and staff salaries as well as benefits, food service, and other expenses.

The remaining 15 percent would cover day-to-day operations, including utilities.

In Hancock County s Liberty-Benton Local School District, a 7-mill levy to renovate and build new elementary and middle school facilities in the district s kindergarten through 12th grade building was defeated by a razor thin margin of 16 votes.

A voter at the Monclova Community Center casts her ballot to decide the fate of two levy requests for Anthony Wayne Schools.
A voter at the Monclova Community Center casts her ballot to decide the fate of two levy requests for Anthony Wayne Schools.
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The school board had pledged to collect only 5.97 mills.

The tax would have raised more than $10.4 million over 28 years.

In the Liberty Center Local Schools in Henry and Fulton counties, voters turned down a 4.98-mill levy that would have paid to renovate and build new facilities for kindergarten through eighth graders.

The cost of that construction project would have been more than $20.6 million.

The combined issue would have cost $152.50 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home.

The Monclova Community Center was set up as a polling place for yesterday s special election for Anthony Wayne voters.
The Monclova Community Center was set up as a polling place for yesterday s special election for Anthony Wayne voters.
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In Fulton County s Pike-Delta-York Local District, a three part request a 2.5-mill bond issue, a 1.8-mill levy, and a 0.5-mill levy for facilities construction and maintenance passed by a single vote.

However, there are 16 provisional ballots that will be counted on Aug. 16.

About $10 million of the $25 million project must come from local taxpayers.

If the levy does indeed pass after the provisional ballots are counted, it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $151 annually for the first 23 years and $135 for the remaining five years.

Voters in the Arlington Local School District, also in Hancock County, handily rejected a 7.6-mill levy and a 0.5 percent income tax that would have paid for construction of a new kindergarten through 12th grade building.

The property tax levy would have lasted 28 years and the income tax would have lasted indefinitely. Both items appeared on a single ballot.

Both levies combined would have cost $232.75 annually for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Liberty-Benton, Liberty Center, Pike-Delta-York, and Arlington schools all had projects before voters through the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which would have paid for portions of the projects.

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-206-0356.



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