Passage of tax issues in
Kent and Streetsboro will bring significant improvements to those two communities.
In Kent, an increase in the city's income tax -- the first in nearly 30 years -- will provide funding for a new Safety Administration Building, while voters in the Streetsboro school district approved a bond issue that will enable construction of a new high school and upgrades for other school facilities.
Voters in Kent were told that a new police facility would be constructed regardless of whether Issue 4 passed. The choice, city officials said, was whether the funds for it would come from a tax increase or through cuts of more than $1 million per year in the operating budget. Passage of the tax hike will provide the $1.2 million needed annually to pay for the $18 million project.
The new safety building will be another major element in the revitalization of Kent. It will meet a longstanding need for a modern police station.
In Streetsboro, passage of the school bond issue will enable the school district to access $24 million in state funds to pay for improvements to school facilities, including construction of a new high school on S.R. 14. Streetsboro's school facilities have not kept pace with the growth that has transformed the community in the past generation. A new high school has been under discussion for years, and improvements are needed at other facilities.
Money issues did not fare well at the polls in the Field, Ravenna and Mogadore districts, where voters turned down requests for additional funding.
The Field levy, which failed by a little more than 100 votes, was especially needed. District voters elected a new majority to the Board of Education; the new members seem to realize that finding a solution for the schools' funding woes will be their first priority. In Ravenna, the 4.9-mill request turned down by voters would have generated funding for building maintenance and other expenses; school officials there say that a levy will return to the ballot in February. In Mogadore, options appear to include pay-to-participate, reduced busing and increased student fees.
Aurora will have a new mayor, one who can bring experience at the state level to the job. Councilwoman Ann Womer Benjamin, who served eight years as a state representative, topped a field of six candidates to win the mayor's post.
Incumbents retained their City Council seats in Ravenna, where Sharon Spencer was re-elected in Ward 1 and Amy Michael and Fred Berry, running as a team, kept their at-large posts in a hotly contested race. In Kent, Melissa Long will be the new face on City Council, winning an at-large post along with incumbent fellow Democrats Mike DeLeone and Roger Sidoti. Former Councilman Stephen Michniak will return to Streetsboro City Council, joining Jeffrey Allen and Tim Claypoole, who were re-elected. Amy McDougald won the lone at-large council seat on the Aurora ballot.
Brady Lake voters turned back a bid to disincorporate the village, which would have enabled it to return to township rule, although there were legal questions about the exact outcome of such a decision. The campaign for disincorporation highlighted the serious financial challenges Brady Lake confonts. While it will remain a village, those problems need to be addressed. Perhaps those who rallied to "save the village" will turn their energies now toward finding a solution to ensure the village's viability.