B.G. splits on anti-discrimination law

11/3/2010

BOWLING GREEN — An attempt to repeal two city ordinances that expanded anti-discrimination protections had mixed results in Bowling Green Tuesday.

By a narrow margin in unofficial results, voters upheld an ordinance that expands the list of protected classes in the city's fair housing code to include sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, and marital status, among others.

But by a similarly slim margin, voters repealed a second ordinance that protected those same groups from discrimination in employment, at business establishments and educational institutions, and for city services.

The ordinance created a process for complaints of discrimination to be investigated by the city.

Both sides of the issues waged high-profile campaigns.

The Bowling Green Coalition for Justice campaigned to keep the ordinances in place, saying the laws would help ensure that all residents be treated fairly and equally.

On the other side, BG Citizens Voting No to Special Rights Discrimination said the ordinances were not about fairness but about giving special rights to people who are gay and transgendered.

Spokesmen for both campaigns could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Bowling Green voters approved a 0.8 percent increase in the city's income tax rate. City Council asked voters to raise the income tax from 1.92 percent to 2 percent to gain an additional $600,000 a year for fire and ambulance services.

A similar request failed last November.

In Fostoria, voters agreed to replace two 0.5 percent income taxes with a 1 percent income tax that would run for six years and generate about $2 million a year.

But they rejected two proposed charter amendments — one that would have replaced the city's strong mayor form of government with a city manager and another that would have prohibited council from abolishing the police department or contracting with another agency for police protection “except upon a vote of the people.”

The charter amendment seeking a city manager form of government also failed by a slim margin last November.

In Wood County, voters agreed to replace a 0.5-mill, 10-year levy for the county health department that will generate $1.5 million a year. The current levy brings in approximately $1.37 million a year.

Health officials said the additional revenue was needed to maintain services and cover the costs of building maintenance that previously was paid by county commissioners. The replacement levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $15.31 per year.

Seneca County voters turned down a 0.5-mill, five-year operating levy for the county health department. The proposed levy, which would have taken the place of an expiring 0.3-mill levy, would have raised slightly more than $500,000 a year.

In Henry County, voters handily renewed a 1.9-mill, three-year operating levy that helps support the county nursing home, Country View Haven in Napoleon. The levy raised more than $826,000 last year.

Defiance County voters approved a 1.9-mill, six-year replacement levy for the county's Board of Developmental Disabilities that will generate $1.47 million a year. The board operates Good Samaritan School and provides early intervention, adult, and residential services.

Voters also approved a 1.2-mill, five-year replacement levy for Defiance County Senior Citizen Services that will raise about $929,000 a year.

In Putnam County, voters agreed to replace a 0.5-mill, 10-year levy for the county's Board of Developmental Disabilities, which operates Brookhill Center in Ottawa.

The levy will generate approximately $322,000 a year.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.comor 419-724-6129.