Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Auglaize voters reject levy for park district
By Amy Kronenberger
WAPAKONETA - The Heritage Trails Park District levy on Tuesday failed by 169 votes.
The unofficial results show 3,231 residents voted in favor of the .6-mill, 7-year levy and 3,400 residents against it. The levy would have brought in $540,000 per year and cost a homeowner with a $100,000 property $21 annually.
Park district executive director Allison Brady said she's happy the race was close.
"We're real grateful for all the support we did get," she said. "Forty-nine percent is nothing to scoff at. Almost half the voters supported the levy. ... The slim margin of it going down is something we'll have to deal with."
Brady said she and park board members conducted several different surveys prior to placing the levy on the ballot, and both showed that Auglaize residents support and value everything parks bring to an area. She didn't know the future of the park district but said the board may consider the levy again in the future.
The park board requested the levy in response to reductions in state funding - the main source of income for the district at $18,802 this year. The amount is up slightly from $18,792 in 2012 and 2013, but it is down from the $30,000 the district received in previous years since its founding in 1996. Donations account for the remainder of the district's $53,000 annual budget.
The new levy would have funded Auglaize County park maintenance and improvements and helped to create new park opportunities, develop educational programming for adults and children, apply for grants, fund volunteer programs to get the community more involved and pay Brady's part-time salary.
"We have no other choice for funding," Brady said. "We anticipate meeting those needs at some point in the future."
St. Marys City Schools renewal levy
The majority of voters in the St. Marys school district approved the 6.8-mill renewal levy that will continue to bring in $1.84 million annually.
The unofficial tally reported 1,688 voters - or 69.55 percent - opted to renew the levy, and 739 voted against the measure.
Superintendent Shawn Brown said he and everyone in the district are happy and thankful for the community's continued support.
"We still have to be financially cautious," he said. "We're not swimming in money. We still have to watch every penny, nickel and dime."
Brown said he will discuss reinstating many programs cut last year when he meets with board members May 14. He said he has been meeting with the district's principals about the issue and he will share their recommendations with the board, he said.
The five-year, property tax levy was first passed in 2004 and helps fund day-to-day operations at the district. Maintaining the levy will help the district avoid deficit spending as early as next year, officials said.
New Bremen schools renewal levy
Residents in the New Bremen school district approved a 1 percent continuing income tax renewal levy by 231 votes. The results showed 533 voters - 63.83 percent - approved the issue, and 302 residents voted against it.
The levy each year generates approximately $1.55 million or 20 percent of the district's annual operating revenue. Voters approved changing from a five-year levy to a continuing levy. Superintendent Howard Overman had said the board could repeal the issue in the future if the funds are no longer needed.
Mental Health and Recovery Services levy
A three-county levy that will help fund the Mental Health and Recovery Services of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties passed by 2,576 votes.
In Auglaize County, 3,710 residents - 56.26 percent - approved the issue, and 2,884 voted against it. In Allen County, 7,284 voters - 54.73 percent - gave their approval and 5,996 residents voted against it.
Voters in Hardin County approved the issue by the widest margin of 56.37 percent, with 2,205 voting for the levy and 1,707 voting against it.
Hardin county voters in November rejected the new 1-mill levy by 55 percent, causing the issue to overall fail 14,992 to 14,864 votes. Auglaize County voters narrowly approved the measure by 51 percent and Allen County voters also approved it by a slim margin at last fall's polls.
According to a release, the organization has lost about $3.3 million in state, federal and other funding since 2008. The board's annual revenue fell from $8.2 million in 2008 to $4.9 million this year. The new levy will help make up for lost funding, officials said.
St. Marys Eagles liquor option
St. Marys residents approved a liquor option for Sunday sales and on-premises consumption sales from 10 a.m.-midnight at the St. Marys Eagles Auglaize Aerie 767. The option passed 84 to 41 votes.
Total voter turnout in Auglaize County was 21.49 percent out of 31,255 registered voters. Total ballots cast were 6,717; of those 4,354 voted Republican, 1,189 voted Democrat and 1,157 were nonpartisan.
Turnout was average for the primary election; last year's tally was 22.9 percent, board of elections director Michelle Wilcox said. More voters cast ballots in St. Marys and New Bremen due to the school district levies, she added.
Wilcox noted that no problems were reported Election Day and everything went smoothly.