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Published: Sunday, 11/4/2012

Voters confront array of tax requests

If all pass, a $100,000 house in city would be billed $389 more per year

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Staff members of The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library hold up letters that spell "LIBRARY" and cheer for the crowd during a kick off event for a levy campaign in front of  Fifth Third Field. Staff members of The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library hold up letters that spell "LIBRARY" and cheer for the crowd during a kick off event for a levy campaign in front of Fifth Third Field.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

After waiting in line to vote, many Lucas County and city of Toledo voters could end up standing before the touch-screen machines for longer than usual.

The bulk of voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to cast votes on five county-wide levies — the number of which has some people expecting voter fatigue and voter drop-off. There also are two levies for people voting inside the city of Toledo and one for those in Sylvania.

The levies will appear on the ballot after the presidential candidates, local candidates, and two statewide issues.

David Davis, a University of Toledo political science professor for more than two decades, said people can be “a little less enthusiastic” about issues the longer the ballot gets.

READ MORE: The Blade 2012 Voters Guide

“We do have statistics, as you go down the ballot, you are less likely to vote,” Mr. Davis said.

If all seven Toledo and Lucas County levies are approved, Toledoans who own a home valued at $100,000 would pay $388.74 more a year.

The highest-priced levy request comes from the Toledo Public School District, which is asking for a new 4.9-mill permanent levy. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $150.06 a year.

Toledo voters also will decide a 1-mill levy request for the city’s parks and recreation facilities. It would cost the same homeowner $30.62 more a year.

The Lucas County proposals include:

● A new 1-mill, 10-year levy for the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $30.63 annually. It would generate about $7 million annually for the agency.

● A renewal of the 1-mill levy plus a new, 0.85-mill tax for Lucas County Children Services. The levies’ total cost for the owner of a $100,000 home would be $56.66, or an increase of $26.03 annually. The new portion of the levy wouldn’t be collected until 2014. It would generate about $12.9 million annually. Levies provide more than half of the agency’s revenue.

● A renewal of Imagination Station’s five-year, 0.17-mill levy. It costs the owner of a $100,000 property $5.21 yearly. This would generate about $1.5 million annually for the science center.

● A 2.9-mill levy request from the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. Two mills of that would be a renewal of the library’s existing levy; 0.9 mills would be additional. The additional 0.9 mill would represent about $27 more a year for the owner of a $100,000 home. The total 2.9 mills would cost that same homeowner about $88 annually.

● The Metroparks of the Toledo Area is asking for approval of a 0.9-mill levy. The agency has a 0.3-mill levy that expires at the end of this year, but the funds it provides can only be used for purchasing land, not for maintenance and day-to-day park operations. The proposed levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $27.56 annually. It would raise about $7.1 million annually, according to Scott Carpenter, a spokesman for the agency. It would assist with major maintenance and improvements at several parks, such the Middlegrounds in downtown Toledo, Fallen Timbers Battlefield in Maumee, and others.

The Sylvania Recreation District has a .04-mill operating levy on the ballot. If approved, it would cost about $19 per year for the owner of a home valued at $160,000. The district operates several facilities, including Pacesetter Park, Tam-O-Shanter, Centennial Terrace & Quarry, Veterans Memorial Field, Plummer Pool, the Sylvania Skate Board Park, athletic fields, a 4-mile portion of the University Parks Trail, and 2.2 miles of trails that are near Centennial Terrace and Pacesetter Park.

Ken Katafias, Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District director, predicted cuts without the new levy.

"We will have to take a long look at operating expenses and reduce services, reduce the quality and the amount of facility maintenance we do, primary out at Pacesetter," Mr. Katafias said. "We like to hold ourselves to a high standard and I think the public holds us to that high standard and I don't think that will continue if we don't pass this levy."

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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