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Published: Wednesday, 2/5/2003

Bellevue school levy wins renewal

BELLEVUE, Ohio - Voters in the Bellevue City School District agreed yesterday to renew a property tax that provides more than $1 million a year for district operations.

A five-year, 5.4-mill levy passed with just over 52 percent of the vote, 893 to 808, in the special election. The tax issue substitutes for a 6.9-mill levy approved by voters in February, 1998. A mill is one dollar for every $1,000 assessed valuation.

The district, which includes parts of Erie, Huron, Sandusky, and Seneca counties, last had a tax on the ballot in February, 2001. In that election, voters approved a 0.5 percent income tax to avert teacher layoffs, other cutbacks, and a possible state takeover of the district.

The newly renewed property tax will raise $1.35 million annually for the district, which has about 300 employees and 2,450 students. That revenue accounts for about 8.5 percent of the district's budget.

Superintendent James Lahoski said the renewal means the district can map its finances and curriculum without worrying about a possible drop in revenue. “The nice thing about it is, we won't be losing any monies,” he said. “We could have waited until May or November to put it on, but now we can plan and keep the ship moving forward. I'm very pleased.”

He noted that turnout was way down from two years ago, when more than 3,600 voters cast ballots, and he cited yesterday's cold, windy weather as part of the reason.

It should be two more years before the district has to seek another tax renewal, the superintendent added. “We're going to be sitting pretty good for awhile,” Dr. Lahoski said.

Also, voters in the Huron County city of Willard overwhelmingly approved a 0.25 percent income tax. The tax, which passed 311 to 107, will fund $2.6 million in federally-mandated improvements to the municipal water-treatment plant. City officials had said that without passage, water customers faced rate increases of up to 35 percent to pay for the project.

City Manager Brian Humphress said the tax will probably need to be collected for five years to generate the needed funds to pay for the water plant improvements and debt service.

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