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Monday, December 22, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 7/10/2014 - Updated: 5 months ago

Children Services pares its levy request

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Editor‘‍s note: This article corrects the name of board member Gordon Barry.

A day after a levy review committee refused to back its 1.9-mill property tax proposal, the Lucas County Children Services Board decided Wednesday to reduce the levy request in hopes it will win approval with the county commissioners and voters in the November election.

The board shrank the request for the Nov. 4 election to 1.75 mills for seven years. It would replace an existing five-year, 1.4-mill levy that will not expire until the end of 2016. The vote for the lower millage was 7-1. Two members abstained.

Dean Sparks, Children Services executive director, told the board he will present the new request today at the county commissioners’ special meeting, and a decision on putting it on the ballot would be made later.

On Tuesday, the Lucas County Citizens Levy Review Committee, by a 4-2 vote, sent a recommendation to the county commissioners against putting the 1.9-mill property tax request on the ballot. It was the third meeting of the panel to review the proposal.

After discussing the committee’s decision and budget projections that put the agency into deficit spending in 2015 without new tax money, board member Gordon Barry proposed reducing the millage request.

“My personal opinion, based on where we stand today, it would be appropriate to lower our request to the commissioners,” he said. “That is something we could live with.”

Without passage of a levy, Mr. Sparks said, the agency would continue to collect taxes on the existing 1.4 mills for two years, but the agency’s fund balance would be depleted in 2015 and $1.5 million in spending cuts would be needed. The reductions would include eliminating staff and services to families.

Mr. Gordon said he believes Children Services has proven to the community that it has a good record of providing services and care for children and that any bad publicity the agency receives because of the levy review meetings will be forgotten in November.

“First we have to sell it to the county commissioners ... but more than that we have to sell it to the community,” he said. “Any time that we go to the voters there is a chance they will say this is too much.”

Johnetta McCollough, who was the only board member to vote against the reduced millage, said she feared media coverage from the levy review meetings and a crowded ballot could hurt the agency’s chances of winning voter approval.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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