About half the Lucas County levies on the ballot appeared poised to pass late Tuesday night, with others too close to call, and the largest levy, Toledo Public Schools’, seemed headed for defeat.
With about 88 percent of county precincts reporting, levy requests by the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Lucas County Children Services, and the Metroparks of the Toledo Area had leads. A levy for the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board was up by only about 1 percentage point, and a levy for Imagination Station was down by less than 1 percent.
Meanwhile, levies for Toledo’s parks and recreation facilities and for TPS were each down about 7 percent and appeared unlikely to pass.
TPS officials, who held an election night gathering at the district’s Summit Street Annex building, held out hope at about 11:30 p.m. — when only about a third of precincts were in — that they still could till eke out a victory for their 4.9-mill, 10-year levy. Early returns had the money request facing a deep deficit, but the voting margins closed to a nearly 50-50 split before beginning to widen again.
Without knowing which precincts had been counted, board of education member Brenda Hill said there was no way to know how the vote would go.
“We won’t get a good picture until all the precincts are in,” she said.
But with the likelihood the levy would fail, district officials were faced with what’s next.
The levy would have generated $13.3 million annually. Voters have not approved new levy money for the Toledo school district’s general fund since 2000 and twice rejected ballot initiatives in 2010.
Superintendent Jerome Pecko said TPS leaders would meet this morning to discuss next steps.
The district’s budget is balanced through the end of the fiscal year, so immediate program cuts wouldn’t be necessary. But a failed levy would leave large budget deficits starting next fiscal year that would need to be closed.
“We can manage without eliminating programs; that’s the good news,” he said. “The bad news is we start seeing deficits.”
Board President Lisa Sobecki said that even if voters reject the levy, the district had gained significant community support during the campaign.
“At the end of the day, folks are recognizing the hard work we are doing,” she said. “Now we have to convince the voters.”
Ms. Hill said she expects the board to try again next year.
Of the levies that appeared to pass, Children Services renewed a 1-mill levy and added a 0.85-mill tax; the library system renewed a 2-mill levy and added a 0.9-mill tax, and the Metroparks won a 0.9-mill levy. The Metroparks levy includes a 0.3-mill levy that expires at the year-end, but could be used only to buy land, not for maintenance and day-to-day park operations. The passed levy will assist with major maintenance and improvements at several parks, such the Middlegrounds in downtown Toledo, Fallen Timbers Battlefield in Maumee, and others.
The Imagination Station’s levy is a renewal of a five-year, 0.17-mill levy, and the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board’s was for a new 1-mill, 10-year levy.
Toledo’s parks and recreation facilities request was for a 1-mill levy.
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