With a 13-vote margin of defeat for the Genoa Area Local School District s operating levy request, district leaders yesterday were mulling another tax request for the August or November ballot and budget cuts.
“We ll have to try again” if the unofficial election tally stands, Superintendent Dennis Mock said. Unofficial results showed the new 6.4-mill, permanent levy failing with a 50.3 percent no vote from a tally of 1,239-1,252. An undetermined number of walk-in votes will not be counted until March 25.
In Otsego Local School District, where a 30-vote majority appeared to have passed a bond issue, district leaders were optimistic, but not ready to announce a timeline for the $18.4 million construction and renovation project.
“Until it s completely certified, everything could be up in the air,” district treasurer Christine Ziegler said of Otsego s 6.2-mill, 28-year bond request. Unofficial results showed the issue passing with a 50.5 percent yes vote from a tally of 1,596-1,566.
Genoa and Otsego appeared to have the most evenly divided electorates locally, according to unofficial results. Of 23 area school issues on Tuesday s ballot, 14 appeared to be approved, including Otsego, and nine appeared to be denied, counting Genoa.
That s a higher passage rate than the Ohio Department of Education reported for the state. Of 228 school issues on the ballot, state officials reported 108 passed, which is a 47 percent passing rate.
Some local issues sailed through.
Of the 14 districts passing levies, eight had at least a 58 percent yes vote on unofficial tallies.
Northwood Local s 2.5-mill, five-year renewal levy for permanent improvements appeared to have the greatest support with a 66 percent yes vote. Hicksville Exempted Village had a 65 percent yes vote for its five-year, 0.75 percent income tax for operating expenses. Wauseon Exempted Village won 63 percent approval for its 1-mill, five-year replacement levy for permanent improvements.
A few districts denied levies just as decisively.
Patrick Henry s 8.75-mill, five-year operating levy failed with a 63 percent no vote. The unofficial tally was 760-1,275.
Tiffin City Schools requested an 0.75 percent, five-year income tax for operations that failed by 61 percent and Bellevue City s 1.85-mill, 28-year construction bond issue failed by 60 percent.
In Fostoria City District, a new 9.63-mill, five-year operating levy lost by 54 percent, according to the unofficial tally of 1,523-1,753.
The district expects to lose $3 million in state funding over the next five years and end 2004-05 with a $400,000 deficit unless it raises taxes or cuts spending. The red ink would swell to $5 million by June, 2008.
The levy defeat means some budget cuts, including job losses and possibly layoffs, will be made even if voters approve a tax increase later this year, Superintendent Cynthia Lemmerman said.
Jobs will be cut in some districts that passed levies as well.
Evergreen Local Board of Education s agenda for Monday s meeting will name nine teachers whose contracts are to be suspended for next year because the district is short of funds.
The 0.75 percent, five-year additional income tax that passed by 58 percent won t start bringing significant funds into the district until July, 2005, Superintendent Kenneth Jones said.
That means funds will be tight for next school year and the following year. But Mr. Jones, whose district had been denied two previous levy requests last year, said he was grateful.
“There s a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Evergreen was one of several districts that appeared to pass levies this week after being denied new funds last year.
Swanton, which lost levy bids in November, August, and May, and had organized opposition, passed a 1.25 percent, five-year income tax by 52 percent with an unofficial tally of 1,873-1,731. Superintendent Kevin McQuade said he expects the district to be placed in fiscal watch after leaders meet with an Ohio Department of Education consultant March 16. Without the new levy, he had predicted the district would fall into fiscal emergency.
The district changed the tide of three failed levies by getting more yes voters to the polls, rather than changing the minds of no voters, Mr. McQuade said.
McComb Local did the same to pass its new 0.5 percent, five-year income tax that was defeated in November, Superintendent Tim Scherer said.
“You typically do not change no-voters minds. Your best chances are to get more people who are supportive of you and get them to vote.”
McComb s operating levy won by 52 percent with a vote of 545-503 on unofficial tallies.
Other area districts that appeared to pass levies include Millcreek-West Unity Local, by 62 percent; Springfield Local and Ayersville Local, 61 percent; Napoleon, 59 percent; Arcadia Local and Lakota Local, 54 percent, and Port Clinton, by 53 percent.