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Published: Wednesday, 11/9/2011

Renewal levies pass with broad support

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lucas County voters showed Tuesday they don't mind paying for services they value, approving by wide margins renewal levies for the Toledo Zoo, Lucas County Children Services, and the 911 emergency system.

With more than 86 percent of precincts reporting, the zoo levy was headed for passage by a comfortable 70-30 percent margin. "We are certainly incredibly appreciative of the support of Lucas County voters," said Anne Baker, the zoo's executive director.

The levy will generate $6.4 million annually, with the owner of a $100,000 house paying $26 a year.

Levy revenue goes toward day-to-day operating expenses, including feeding the animals, veterinary care, utilities, and maintenance.

Even with the levy's passage, zoo officials are planning slight boosts in admission and membership fees to address a budget gap. The amount is yet to be determined, but Ms. Baker said it will be small enough that "most people won't even notice."

Voters also approved by 67-33 percent a five-year, 1.4-mill renewal for Lucas County Children Services, an agency whose mission is to protect children at risk of abuse and neglect by working to provide them with safe, stable, and permanent families. The levy will generate about $10.4 million a year, which accounts for a fourth of the agency's $42 million annual budget. The cost to the owner of a $100,000 home is $39 a year.

The Lucas County Emergency Services' five-year, 0.7-mill renewal was approved by two-thirds of voters. The levy will generate $5.56 million a year, which will go toward the county's telephone system, dispatch system, computer equipment, and system support for seven 911 centers and two backup centers. It also will fund the mobile data system infrastructure used by public-safety vehicles.



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