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Voters to decide on tax, JEDD, liquor issues

10/24/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth and Stephanie Kist

SUMMIT/MEDINA COUNTIES — There are no state issues but several local issues that voters will be asked to weigh in on when voting in the Nov. 5 General Election.

For full stories on the ballot issues, go to www.akron.com. Here’s information on the issues that Summit and Medina county voters will see on the ballot this year:

Summit County

  • Issue No. 1 is a renewal levy for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADM) Board. The 2.95-mill levy collects $32.6 million a year and costs the owner of $100,000 in property value $90 a year, ADM officials said. Voters last approved the levy, which provides more than 75 percent of the board’s funding, in 2007. The levy cycle is for six years.
    Executive Director Jerry Craig said the board is responsible for seeing that services are available locally for adults, teens and children with mental illness and/or alcohol and drug addictions. The ADM Board doesn’t provide direct services but contracts with 27 local agencies.
    The ADM board’s budget is currently about $42 million annually, Craig said. Its 20 employees are a reduction from 27 in 2007, he added.
    For details, go to www.supportadmboard.org. For more information on the ADM Board, go to www.admboard.org or call 330-762-3500.
  • Issue No. 2 is a renewal levy for Metro Parks, Serving Summit County. The 1.46-mill levy, last passed by voters in 2006, is estimated to collect $15.8 million annually and would cost property owners about $45 per $100,000 of valuation a year.
    The levy period is for seven years, district spokesman Nate Eppink said. It provides funding to operate and maintain the district’s 14 park sites and 125 miles of trails. In 2012, the district reported it had expenditures totaling $16.5 million.
    The district now has 131 permanent employees, which includes full and part time. There are also seasonal employees and more than 500 active volunteers.
    Since the levy was last renewed, Eppink said the park district fulfilled its campaign promises from the last election, which included completing the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and the renovation of the Visitors Center at the F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm in West Akron.
    For more information, go to www.vote4metroparks.com.
  • Issue No. 3 is the Akron Zoo’s renewal levy. The 0.8-mill levy collects $8 million a year to fund the zoo’s operations. It costs $23 annually for each $100,000 in property value, according to zoo officials.
    This is the third time the levy is on the ballot, according to zoo President and CEO Patricia Simmons. The original levy passed in 2000 was renewed in 2006.
    The levy provides funding for about half of the zoo’s annual operating budget, Simmons said. The other half comes from fundraising and earned income from admission fees and sales.
    The zoo has about 80 full-time employees, a number that expands to about 150 in summer, Simmons said. There are also more than 100 volunteers.
    Should the renewal levy pass, Simmons said the zoo plans to embark on another major project during the next levy cycle. The zoo has about 20 acres available to expand, Simmons said.
    For information on the levy, go to voteforakronzoo.org.


City of Akron

  • Issue No. 4 is an amendment to the city of Akron’s charter that, if approved, would allow the city to donate its Recycled Energy System (RES) to Akron Children’s Hospital.
    Voters will see on the ballot the question: “Shall Section 64a of the charter be adopted to allow the donation to Akron Children’s Hospital, its designee or assignee of the city of Akron’s steam and chilled water system to facilitate Akron Children’s Hospital’s ongoing efforts to meet the long-term health care needs of children?”
    The proposed donation of the RES — which provides steam heating and chilled-water cooling to Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Medical Center, city and county offices and about 50 customers downtown — comes as Children’s embarks on a 10-year capital campaign that includes the construction of a critical care tower, slated to be completed in April 2015. According to city and hospital officials, Children’s wants to use the RES rather than construct its own plant, which would cost about $6 million.
    The city charter requires voter approval for the transfer of city utility systems. If voters approve the measure, Children’s would seek a long-term owner or operator and make upgrades to the RES.
    City officials say the city, which has put about $28.5 million into the RES since 2007, cannot afford to undertake the repairs and maintenance needed for the system.
    Tim Ziga, Children’s associate general counsel, has said the hospital needs the system to be dependable and have redundancies.
    At a special Akron City Council meeting in August, some Council members questioned the lack of an appraisal on the RES and whether it has enough value to the city and should be sold or leased.
    According to city officials, the RES loses money overall, but its revenue is roughly $10 million per year.
    If voters OK the donation, the transfer would go before Council before it’s finalized.
  • Issue No. 6, to be voted on in Akron’s Ward 8, Precinct A, is a local option to allow the sale of beer, wine and mixed beverages and liquor on Sundays at Ken Stewart’s Grille, and Issue No. 7 is to establish the Sunday hours for alcohol sales there as between 10 a.m. and midnight.


City of Cuyahoga Falls

  • Issue No. 9 is a local option to allow the sale of wine and mixed beverages on Sundays at the GetGo at 2816 State Road in Ward 8, Precinct 5.


Peninsula Village

  • Issue No. 29 is a proposed increase in income tax from 1 percent to 2 percent. If approved, it would provide an additional $180,000 for the village, said Fiscal Officer John Stiegel.
    Most of the municipalities in Summit County already have a 2 percent income tax in place, Stiegel said.
    According to village officials, 85 percent of the new tax dollars would be paid by businesses outside of the village and by employees who do not live in Peninsula, and nonresidents would pay the majority of the municipal income tax. Stiegel said Peninsula residents who work in Peninsula would be affected by the increase, as well as some employees of Peninsula businesses who live in townships.
    According to a fact sheet prepared by village officials, the additional funds would allow the village to continue to offer its present level of services, as well as make improvements. Without the increase, a reduction in services is possible, according to village officials.
    According to the fact sheet, the increase would not affect nonresident taxpayers who live in municipalities with a 2 percent municipal income tax rate with 100 percent credit; residents who work in other cities that have a municipal income tax of 2 percent or more; senior citizens who do not work; and residents who are unemployed.
    This is the fourth time the village has asked voters to increase the income tax. In 2012, 55 percent of voters were against the proposed increase.


Boston Township

  • Issue No. 37 proposes the formation of a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) between the township and Peninsula Village.
    Voters will see the question: “Shall the resolution of the board of township trustees approving the contract with Boston Township and Peninsula Village for the creation of a joint economic development district be approved?”
    The purpose of the JEDD, according to the drafted contract that would be signed by the township and the village, is to facilitate economic development to create or preserve jobs and to improve the economic welfare of residents.
    The main result of forming a JEDD, said Boston Trustee Randy Bergdorf, is that Boston Township would be able to collect income tax revenue from this area. According to the contract, an income tax would be levied that is equal to Peninsula’s income tax, which currently is 1 percent. Employees of businesses within the JEDD would be subject to a 1 percent income tax if the JEDD is approved.
    A township cannot collect income tax on its own, but forming the JEDD would allow it to share income tax revenue with Peninsula.
    Under the drafted contract, Boston would retain 90 percent of these tax collections, and 10 percent would go to the village. If Peninsula Village voters approve Issue No. 29, a proposed increase in the village income tax, the percentages would change, and 70 percent of the income tax would be credited to the township and 30 percent to the village.
    The JEDD, if approved, would allow the communities to collect payroll taxes from employees of businesses in the township’s Economic Activity District (EAD), which includes Boston Mills Ski Resort, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and Cuyahoga Valley National Park offices.


City of Norton

  • Issue No. 42 is a 3.89-mill bond issue that would allow the Norton City Schools District to build a new high school and close two buildings. The bond issue would cost the owner of property valued at $100,000 about $136 a year. The property tax would be paid for 36 years, according to Superintendent David Dunn.
    The plan as currently proposed is to build a new high school on 35 acres the district purchased near the baseball field and then demolish Cornerstone Elementary School, which was built in 1915, and Grill Elementary School, which was built in 1929. The current high school, built in 1954, would then be used for the middle school, and the current middle school, built in 1966, would be used as an elementary school for first through fourth grades. The Norton Primary School building, built in 1956, would be the site for prekindergarten and kindergarten classes.
    The total cost for the project is about $32 million, with the bond issue raising $15.8 million and the state contributing $16.3 million.
    The project also would include locally funded initiatives (LFIs), which are not covered by the state money. Dunn said LFIs planned are a high school auditorium, a new competitive stadium and practice fields for sports and band.
    He added the district has been looking at new facilities and property for about 20 years. Efforts intensified four years ago when the district had the opportunity to use state funds. But in three attempts, voters failed to support a bond issue for the district’s share of the proposed project.
    Dunn said Norton reapplied to the program and was accepted. This time the district is slated to receive 51 percent of funds for the project from the state. Previously, the district stood to receive 38 percent from the state.
    For more information, search for Norton City Schools: Excellence Worth Keeping — A Community Commitment on Facebook.


Medina County

  • Issue No. 8 is a five-year, 5.9-mill emergency levy for the Medina City School District. Voters in part of Granger’s Precinct C and part of Sharon’s Precinct B will vote on the levy.
    If passed, the levy would raise about $6.6 million per year. According to district Director of Community Relations Jeanne Hurt, it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $204 per year. Collection would begin in 2014.
    According to district officials, the district has not received new local operating funds since 2005 and has experienced state revenue cuts. Since 2005, the district has unsuccessfully tried five times to pass a levy, Hurt said.
    The district’s $1.8 million deficit in 2014 is expected to balloon to $11.2 million by 2017 without new funding, according to district officials.
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