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Published: Friday, 4/22/2011

May ballot holds several key issues for Sandusky Co.

BY JENIFFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Three countywide levies are on the May 3 ballot in Sandusky County. Three countywide levies are on the May 3 ballot in Sandusky County.
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What will be a quiet -- or nonexistent -- primary election for many in northwest Ohio looks to be a taxing one in Sandusky County, where voters will be asked to decide a number of issues May 3, including the replacement of three countywide levies.

"We were the first ones to announce, and we thought, 'Oh boy, we're the only ones on the ballot.' That lasted about a week, and they started piling on," said Pam Hoesman, director of Birchard Public Library. "We serve seven different school districts, and three of them are on the ballot."

The Fremont-based library, which has branches in Woodville, Gibsonburg, and Green Springs, is asking voters for the first time to help boost its bottom line with a 1-mill, five-year operating levy that would bring in $896,903 a year and enable it to restore hours and staff that have been cut over the last two years.

If approved, the library levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $30.62 per year. It will be decided by residents of the Fremont City school district, the village of Green Springs, the Seneca County portion of Clyde-Green Springs school district, and the Sandusky County portions of Gibsonburg, Lakota, Margaretta, Old Fort, and Woodmore school districts.

Ms. Hoesman hopes voters see the library's value for young and old.

"Ours is a relatively small levy and about half of the people who are in our service area actually have library cards, so a lot of people use the library," she said.

Voters in all of Sandusky County also will decide May 3 whether to replace a 0.5-mill, five-year levy for senior citizens that currently brings in $522,889 a year. If replaced, it would generate approximately $582,142 a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $15.31 a year.

Todd Robinson, senior program coordinator for WSOS senior programs, said levy proceeds help pay for the county's home-delivered meal program, which took some 54,000 meals to homebound seniors last year. The levy also supports a senior transportation program and a meal program at the county's senior centers, where 22,000 meals were served in 2010 at centers in Fremont, Gibsonburg, Clyde, and Woodville.

A five-year, 0.3-mill levy for 911 services brings in $263,318 a year, but would generate $327,053 if replaced by voters. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $9.19 a year.

Chris Mock, Sandusky County's 911 coordinator, said the levy proceeds are used to operate and maintain the 911 system. Sandusky County residents who live in Bellevue are served by Huron County 911 and are not subject to the tax, she said.

The Board of Developmental Disabilities, which operates the School of Hope and Sandco Industries, is asking voters to replace the agency's five-year, 2-mill operating levy, which generates $2.09 million a year. If replaced, it would bring in $2.35 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $61.25 a year.

Superintendent Deb Yenrick called it a "must renew" levy, as it provides more than a third of the agency's operating dollars.

"Sandusky County voters have always been good to the School of Hope and Sandco Industries," she said.

In neighboring Seneca County, voters are being asked to replace a 0.3-mill, five-year operating levy for the health department. In November, voters rejected a 0.5-mill levy that would have taken the place of the smaller levy, prompting the health board to reduce its request this time around.

If approved, the levy would generate approximately $323,056 a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $9.19 a year. The levy would help the health department --which has frozen salaries, reduced staff, and cut some programs -- to maintain services, Health Commissioner Marjorie Broadhead said.

In Fostoria, voters will be asked to take a second look at an amendment to the city charter that was narrowly rejected in November. They will decide whether to amend the city charter to say a majority vote of the people would be required before City Council could abolish the police or fire departments and contract for safety services. The measure, which is not endorsed by City Council, was placed on the ballot by an initiative petition circulated by police and fire personnel.

The police union had gotten a similar measure, which addressed only the police department, on the ballot last November after a councilman said he was looking into the cost of having sheriff's deputies from the three counties the city is situated in -- Wood, Hancock, and Seneca -- provide law enforcement in Fostoria.



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