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All but 2 tax levies strike out



Published: Wed, May 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Some officials think voter confusion and the state of the economy contributed to the defeat of most levies and bond issues.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County voters haven't seen the last of the sales tax renewal that failed in Tuesday's primary election.

County Commissioner Ed Reese said the 0.5 percent five-year renewal will appear on the general election ballot in November.

The future of some of the other six tax issues that failed in the county Tuesday, meanwhile, has yet to be determined.

Officials in Boardman, Austintown, Canfield and Poland said they hadn't decided if they would put the tax issues that failed in their communities back on the November ballot. Also failing were tax measures in the Jackson-Milton schools and Milton Township.

Some passed

The Western Reserve Transit Authority's 2-mill four-year operating levy renewal and the 2-mill five-year expense levy renewal in the village of Poland were the only tax issues to pass in the county Tuesday.

Reese said the county will continue to collect revenue from the sales tax until the end of this year. If the sales tax fails in November, commissioners may cut funding for the county courts, sheriff and juvenile justice center, Reese said. He added that commissioners also may reduce the amount of matching funds in the county budget for state and federal grants.

"We just have to take a look at our budget," he said. "It's not fun, but unfortunately we have to do it."

The tax produces about $12 million a year.

Canfield schools

In Canfield, meanwhile, schools Superintendent Doug Hiscox said the outcome of Tuesday's voting will prompt the school board to try to reduce the district's budget without affecting student services. The board unsuccessfully sought voter approval of a five-year 6.9-mill operating levy.

Hiscox said he wasn't sure why voters didn't support the levy.

Other area officials, however, blamed voting results on negative advertising and voter confusion. Dan Slagle, Boardman's director of parks, said he thinks the state of the economy led some voters to oppose the park board's 1.8-mill 30-year bond issue.

The bond issue would have produced $25 million for a master plan that included construction of a recreation center and senior center.

Slagle also said he thought voters didn't understand that the bond issue would have raised money for trail development and the purchase of park land as well as the construction of the two centers.

Austintown schools

Brad Gessner, Austintown school board president, said that local residents may have felt overwhelmed by tax measures Tuesday. He thinks some voters, feeling smothered, decided to oppose the school board's 3.9-mill 26-year bond issue.

Sale of the bonds would have raised $32 million for the construction of a new junior high and the renovation of Frank Ohl Middle School.

In Poland, schools Superintendent Robert Zorn said some voters think the ballot is "the only place they can say no" to taxes. Unofficial results show the Poland school board's 3.9-mill five-year emergency levy failed by four votes, or one-tenth of 1 percent. If the result remains the same or the deficit shrinks in the official results, the levy vote would be subject to a free automatic recount.

Also failing were the 10.2-mill 27-year bond issue in the Jackson-Milton school district and the new 2-mill five-year police levy in Milton Township.

hill@vindy.com




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