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TRUMBULL COUNTY 3 of 4 school levies pass



Published: Wed, February 9, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



An additional 7-mill levy in Brookfield lost by about 500 votes.

WARREN -- Niles, Bristol and Bloomfield-Mespo school districts passed levies in Tuesday's election, but Brookfield's plea for more funds fell on deaf ears.

A 4.8-mill emergency levy for Niles City Schools, declared in fiscal emergency by the Ohio Department of Education, passed 1,826 to 1,642.

"Obviously, we're excited," said Superintendent Rocco Adduci. Adduci said playing it straight with the voters is what allowed the levy to pass.

"We ran a really honest campaign; that made the difference in this election," he said.

Students, parents and school officials canvassed the whole city Saturday because they wanted people to know the importance of the issue.

"We didn't want to go under the radar with this," he said.

The tax will last for five years and is expected to generate $1.3 million each year.

The new money is part of the plan Niles had to submit to the state, explaining how it would avoid a potential deficit of $8.74 million in three years. It has cut the staff and overtime, changed health-care benefit packages and stopped preventive maintenance on school buildings. It closed one elementary school and planned to buy no new textbooks.

Those cuts will stay in effect because the levy just provides enough for the status quo, Adduci said. However, it will put an end to Niles' fiscal emergency status.

"We're out of danger," Adduci said.

Brookfield

In Brookfield, Levy Committee Chair Gwen Martino said she is devastated that the proposed additional 7-mill levy was defeated 1,408 to 917.

"I don't know what it's going to take to get people to care about our children," she said. "No decent person is going to want to move here if we don't care about our children."

Martino said she thinks the Brookfield levy was defeated because people believed misinformation and because older citizens campaigned so hard against it.

She said she attended a band boosters meeting Tuesday night at which they discussed fund-raising plans for the first new uniforms since the 1970s.

"But now what?" she asked. "If there's no football, there will be no need for band uniforms."

Bristol

Bristol School District moved a little further down the path out of its woods with the passage of a 5.5-mill additional levy, 920 to 797, but, according to Superintendent Marty Santillo, it has a long way to go.

"I'm pleased for our kids," Santillo said Tuesday night, "but we're still going to have to make some cuts."

Even though the levy is expected to provide $400,000 annually for the next five years, the district is so much in debt that ending fiscal emergency status is likely to take four or five years, Santillo said.

He said the two other levies on the ballot in May are equally important if the district is to get out of debt and back on its own feet.

Bloomfield-Mespo

The renewal of the Bloomfield-Mespo levy, 234 to 73, will actually bring lower tax bills, according to Superintendent Frank DiPiero. It was a renewal levy, but the rate was lowered from the present 5 mills to 4.2 mills because of increases in the tax valuation of the district

"You don't know how relieved I am," DiPiero said after the election results were posted on the Internet. "You can't take anything for granted these days."

He attributed the passage of the levy to the lower millage and to making it clear to voters how wisely money had been spent in previous years.

"I can sleep now," he said.

The single Trumbull precinct eligible to vote on a levy in the Cardinal district voted against the levy, 13 to 5.




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