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Sharon, Granger voters will see issues on November ballot

10/4/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

SHARON/GRANGER — Voters living in Sharon and Granger will see several issues on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

The following is a rundown of local issues on the ballot.

Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities levy

Voters in Medina County will see Issue No. 25 on the November ballot. It is a 1.9-mill replacement levy to fund the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD).

According to agency officials, the levy is not a new tax. It is a 17-year-old levy, and when it was originally approved in 1995, the MCBDD served 469 people each month. According to the agency’s website, more than 1,100 people now are served each month. That’s an increase of 135 percent in the number of clients served, said MCBDD Public Relations Coordinator Patti Hetkey.

If approved, replacing the levy would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $30 per year, or $2.50 per month, she said, and bring in about $4 million annually for operating expenses. Approval of the replacement levy would allow collection of the millage voters approved in 1995 to be updated to reflect today’s value, she added.

Operating funds are needed to maintain the current services MCBDD offers, according to Hetkey. If the levy fails, services would need to be substantially reduced, affecting clients of all ages, in areas such as job training, residential support, autism services, education programs, transportation, early intervention and employment services, she added.

During the past three to four years, the agency has worked to reduce expenses, she noted.

“We’re running at a bare minimum now,” she said. “We’ve taken a careful and thoughtful look at the way we do business.”

Salaries have been maintained at the same level since 2008, she said.

“Internally, we have been able to reduce our workforce by 11.3 percent,” she added.

MCBDD also has been able to recruit nearly 315 volunteers, said Hetkey.

“Most of the cuts have affected our organization, but not those that we serve,” she said.

Sharon road and bridge levy

Voters living in Sharon will see a five-year, 2-mill replacement levy for roads and bridges, Issue No. 16.

If approved, the levy would generate approximately $431,400 a year and cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $63 annually, according to Mary Beth Guenther, Medina County deputy auditor.

Guenther noted previously that the 2-mill levy currently costs the owner of a $100,000 property $52.35 annually.

The current 2-mill levy expires in December 2013, and, if approved, collection for the replacement levy would begin where that one leaves off, said Sharon Fiscal Officer Anita Haas.

Approval of the levy would help maintain 43.1 miles of township roads, according to Trustee Ray Lurtz.

“Obviously, if it doesn’t pass, you might see the quality of our roads go down,” said Haas.

Wadsworth Library levy

Voters living in Sharon within the Wadsworth City School District also will see Issue No. 23, a 1-mill levy for the Wadsworth Public Library, on the ballot.

The five-year levy would cost the owner of a home with an appraised value of $100,000 approximately $31.50 per year, according to Library Director C. Allen Nichols. The library had previously requested a 1.25-mill continuing levy in March, but the issue was defeated by 54 percent of voters, according to the Medina County Board of Elections. Prior to March, the last time the library asked voters for operating funds was in 2002, according to the library’s website.

Since 2001, the library has lost almost $2 million in state funding, according to Nichols.

To offset some of that loss, more than $500,000 has been cut from the library’s budget since 2008, he added.

Those cuts have included reducing staff by one-third, cutting library hours and selling bookmobiles, he noted.

Approval of a new levy would “hopefully bring back some of our services people are asking for” by raising $607,500 annually for operating expenses, said Nichols.

Those funds would mean that 14 hours of weekly business previously cut could be restored.

Other priorities would be to begin buying more materials, increase educational programming, add outreach services to those unable to visit the library and provide new technology training to patrons, he added.

While the library circulates donated laptops and other electronic devices, such as various e-book readers and iPads purchased with earmarked grant funds, new levy funds would allow the library to do more with those gifts, he said.

“We would be able to do more training and provide more technology for people,” he said.

If the levy fails, “we would be looking at a laundry list of things” to cut, including additional hours; outreach programs to schools, daycare centers and older adults; cutting back on purchasing new materials; and charging for patrons to use the internet, added Nichols.

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