Issue 2 not confusing to Ohio voters

By Deborah Guziak Record-Courier staff writer Published:

As the May ballot draws closer, local school districts, while concerned, have not heard any confusion regarding Issue 2 _ a statewide referendum on a 1-cent increase in state sales tax _ and local school levies.

"We haven't heard anything, but it's early yet," said Patricia Bateman, superintendent of Field schools. Voters within the Field schools district will have a chance to vote on a 2-mill, 5-year permanent improvement levy next month.

If approved by voters, the levy is expected to generate more than $450,000 yearly for five years and cost the owner of $100,000 home an extra $60.72 annually.

The district was left without a permanent improvement fund to be used solely for repairs and equipment purchases after a 1-mill permanent improvement levy expired in December.

"We don't have much choice," Bateman said. "We are doing what's best for our school. (Money from the levy) is going strictly for repairs. It is not going for salary or wages. It is not going for operations. It is going for roof repair, wiring upgrades, fire and safety codes and windows."

Bateman said she and other school superintendents do not know much about Issue 2.

"I don't know if any superintendent knows," she said. "We're still not sure how much money it will generate. We're not sure where the money will go. We're not sure if the money will go to the lower-wealth schools and then work its way up."

Bateman said the uncertainty of what the state is doing and the district's dire repair needs are the driving force behind the five-year life of the district's levy.

"We hope to have a better picture of what the state will be doing in five years," she said. "If they're doing not doing something by then, we may have to ask the voters to renew (our) levy."

Tom Siciliano, president of the Rootstown Board of Education, also is leery of the state program.

"I think it's like the lottery program," he said. "The state's always claimed (lottery money) would go to schools. The state promises a lot of things, but when it comes down to it, they always attach so many strings or mandates to it. The state just doesn't give new money."

Voters within the Rootstown district will have a chance to approve a continuing 2.5-mill permanent improvement levy to be used for general, ongoing, permanent improvements, such as technology, science labs, parking lots, furniture and renovation of the high school lobby's restroom.

If passed, the levy will net only a small portion of the estimated $1.3 million needed for improvements. The levy, which would generate about $260,000 annually, would increase taxes of a $100,000 per household by $51.62 annually.

"If we had a choice, we prefer the local levy," Siciliano said. "We know where the money is going."

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