TPS levy appears en route to defeat

11/7/2012
BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

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.

Con­tact Nolan Ro­senk­rans at:

nro­senk­rans@the­blade.com

or 419-724-6086.