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Published: Wednesday, 7/2/2003

Agency seeking renewal of levy

Lucas County Children Services hopes to seek renewal of a 1.25-mill levy in November, the agency's leader said yesterday.

Dean Sparks, executive director of Children Services, briefed the Lucas County commissioners about plans to put the levy request on the ballot.

The levy, which brings in about $8 million a year, costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $31 a year, according to Rod Brandt, a spokesman for the agency.

Because it is a renewal and not a replacement, the tax does not increase.

The 1.25-mill levy expires at the end of the year. Children Services also has a 1.4-mill levy that ends in 2006 that generates $11 million annually. State and federal money make up the rest of the agency's $42 million annual budget.

Mr. Sparks told the commissioners the agency has a reserve fund of about $32 million, but projected a deficit in 2010 of $19 million even if both of the levies are renewed.

“We really don't need the money right now, but in the long term, we will need the money,” he told the commissioners, who will have to approve placing the levy on the ballot.

Harry Barlos, president of the commissioners, said he doesn't anticipate opposition to putting the levy before voters.

He said Children Services does a wonderful job, but he could understand if voters are getting tired of levies.

“We have to take into consideration the pain homeowners and retirees are feeling,” Mr. Barlos said.

Mr. Sparks said his agency doesn't want to face a gap in the services it supplies for abused and neglected children.

“We're looking at long-term planning so we don't need to do knee-jerk things in 2009 and 2010,” he said after the meeting.

Mr. Sparks said it was a “political strategy” to seek a renewal levy rather than a new levy that has the potential to raise more money. He said new levies don't do as well with voters as renewals.

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