By Timothy Cox
Voters in Fort Recovery and Parkway school districts overwhelmingly approved tax issues to fund general operations.
Parkway's 1 percent income tax renewal was favored by 70 percent of Mercer County voters and passed by a 653-317 vote margin, which includes the Willshire area in Van Wert County. A handful of votes from Auglaize County are not included in that total.
Fort Recovery's 0.5 percent income tax -- a new tax issue --was favored by voters with a 658-365 unofficial vote total.
Superintendents from both districts were pleased with the outcome, even though turnout in both districts was extremely light.
"The easy part is done. The job for the school district now is to make sure we continue to deserve that support," said Fort Recovery Superintendent Dave Riel after finding out the results at the Mercer County Courthouse on Tuesday evening. School administrators and board members must work together to ensure they spend the new revenue in the "wisest" fashion, Riel said.
The new 0.5 percent income tax is expected to generate about $300,000 annually. The district already has a 1 percent income tax in place to help fund the district. The additional tax would cost someone earning $25,000 annually about $125 in new taxes.
Parkway Superintendent Doug Karst called the passage of the income tax renewal a "rather overwhelming victory."
"We're very grateful to all the voters," Karst said, adding that he hopes the many voters who did not come to the polls still support the district.
The renewal tax will last for five years; the expiring 1 percent income tax had been in effect the past 10 years. The tax raises about $900,000 annually for the district and school officials had said the tax renewal was necessary to avoid further budget and staffing cuts to those already made. The 1 percent income tax costs someone earning $25,000 annually about $250.
Turnout was weak in both the Fort Recovery and Parkway districts. There were no other issues or political races for voters to cast ballots on, except in Mendon and Union townships, where the fire levy was on the ballot and where Parkway tax issues have sometimes struggled for support in past elections.
Turnout was the highest in the Mendon area, at nearly 25 percent for the Union Township precinct. Hopewell Township and the village of Rockford had the next highest voter turnouts, at 23.65 percent and 20.98 percent in unofficial totals. Turnout in Dublin Township, which surrounds Rockford, was just 18.36 percent.