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Published: Wednesday, 11/8/2006

Sandusky County: Voters turn down Fremont school levy again


Voters again rejected a five-year emergency levy to raise $3.6 million annually and get Fremont City Schools out of debt yesterday, prompting immediate participation fees for extracurricular activities, busing-service cutbacks, and upcoming discussions to trim other costs.

"We're going to have to look seriously at our personnel costs and what we have to do there," said Tim Ellenberger, president of the Fremont Board of Education. "The tough part comes now. We have to make cuts, and they're not going to be popular cuts."

Among countywide issues, unofficial results showed that Sandusky County voters rejected a 5-year, 0.9-mill additional tax for the Joint-County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, which also was considered in Seneca and Wyandot counties. Seneca County voters rejected the levy and results from Wyandot County were not in late last night.

Sandusky County residents also voted down a 5-year, 1-mill replacement operations and improvements levy for the parks district, but voters easily approved a 5-year, 0.5-mill replacement and increase for senior citizens.

In the contested county commissioner race, incumbent Brad Smith (R., Fremont) defeated Glenn Baker (D., Lindsey).

Woodmore Local Schools received approval from Sandusky County voters for a 5-year, 4-mill replacement tax levy. But results from voters in the Ottawa County portion of the district had not been tallied by press time.

In the Fremont district, the emergency 6.9-mill levy was rejected by a narrower margin yesterday than in May. Voters likely will be asked again next May to consider the measure, which would have allowed the district to end the year in the black, Mr. Ellenberger said.

High school students participating in sports, music, and drama activities will have to pay $375 fees, while those in middle school will have to pay $175, Mr. Ellenberger said. Club membership will cost $75 a year, prorated to $58 since the school year has begun, he said.

Fremont schools will go to the state minimum on busing Jan. 2, when transportation for high school students will be eliminated, Mr. Ellenberger said. Younger students within two miles of their schools will not be bused, up from one mile, he said.

Further cuts will be considered by the board and residents are encouraged to participate in discussions, he said. Voters sent a "very clear message" to the board, he said, but it is unclear whether the dissatisfaction was directed at the district or elected officials statewide.

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