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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Aug. 7 ballots in NW Ohio to hold fund requests

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lake Local Schools, five other northwest Ohio school districts, and the village of Delta all have funding requests before voters in the Aug. 7 special election.

By Wednesday's 4 p.m. filing deadline, no issues had been filed in Lucas County.

In Wood County, Lake Local Schools is asking voters to approve a three-year, 6.75-mill operating levy that would bring in nearly $1.47 million a year to a district that has struggled to get new tax revenues approved.

Twice last year, Lake voters rejected requests for a 4.75-mill levy. The school board slashed $1.15 million from the budget and increased the request for new operating dollars by 2 mills. In March, the board voted to lay off eight teachers, close Walbridge Elementary, and eliminate all-day kindergarten, cuts that would likely remain even if the levy passes.

In Fulton County, the village of Delta is asking voters to renew two separate, five-year, 0.5-mill levies for fire protection. Village Finance Director Stephanie Mossing said each levy generates approximately $21,300 a year, which Delta uses to help pay for its contract with York Township for fire protection.

Swanton Local Schools is asking for voters to renew a five-year, 4.45-mill emergency levy. The same request failed in March.

Interim Superintendent Lester Schultz said the levy, which brings in $825,000 a year, is needed to offset increased costs and reduced revenue. "We're spending more money than we're pulling in," he said.

Last month, the school board and Swanton Education Association approved a new three-year contract retroactive to Sept. 1. The contract calls for no raises in base pay, and teachers must pay a greater share of health-insurance costs, he said.

Mr. Schultz said even if the levy is renewed in August, the board will be making more budget cuts. He said he planned to recommend the elimination of six positions at next week's board meeting, including 2.5 teachers and three support positions.

Pettisville Local Schools has a 1 percent additional income tax on the ballot. If approved, it would bring in an estimated $440,000 a year for a continuing period.

Superintendent Stephen Switzer said the additional funds are needed in light of significant reductions in state funding.

"We've been able to cut our cost increases, but not enough," he said. "We've cut a number of positions, but we're projecting spending about $150,000 more than we take in this current year and about $250,000 next year."

Since Pettisville voters last approved new operating dollars in 2003, the district has cut 3.75 teaching positions and five support staff positions. Base salaries for employees have not changed in three years, he said.

Clyde-Green Springs Schools, which has voters in Sandusky and Seneca counties, is seeking a five-year, 4.78-mill operating levy. The request is slightly less than the 4.9-mill levy that was rejected by voters three times in 2011.

If approved, the 4.78-mill levy would generate nearly $1 million a year.

Margaretta Local Schools, situated in Sandusky and Erie counties, is asking voters to renew a five-year, 1.5-mill permanent improvement levy that brings in about $175,000 a year. The funds are used for building improvements and technology upgrades.

Michigan's statewide primary election also is Aug. 7. Petitions to place county and local questions on the ballot are due by May 15.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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