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Firelands substitute levy gambit finds heavy support

Nov 04, 2020

HENRIETTA TWP. — Getting more at the same cost appealed to Firelands Schools voters, who overwhelmingly supported a substitute 5.98-mill levy.

Issue 16 sailed through easily Tuesday night, with 3,825 votes for and 2,659 against, or 59 percent to 41 percent, in unofficial election night tallies from Lorain and Erie county boards of election.

Those numbers are likely to shift as the final mail-in ballots arrive in coming days.

The owner of a $100,000 home will continue to pay about $183.13 per year in property taxes. The district will get $2.32 million the first year of collections and be able to build on that base from new construction in following years.

"I'd like to thank the voters who supported us on Issue 16. I'm grateful to their continued support and commitment to keeping our schools strong," said Firelands Superintendent Mike Von Gunten.

He said excitement around a new high school that will open in the 2022-23 school year helped build voter support.

The substitute levy doesn't raise taxes, but it does stave off difficult decisions, Von Gunten said.

A loss would have certainly meant cutting staff, since personnel make up the largest percentage of Firelands' budget, and he said any reductions would have ultimately hurt students.

With costs up due to the COVID-19 pandemic and operations already lean, the district will have to be extremely cautious with spending.

"We don't have a shopping list put together. We're going to continue to be fiscally responsible," Von Gunten said.

Issue 16 combined two levies, passed in 2006 and 2011, that were set to expire in 2021. Doing so meant Firelands can capitalize on new homes that are built in coming years.

The money is earmarked for academic, arts and athletics programs. It supports teachers, transportation, class materials and technology purchases.

See the full story on The Chronicle Telegram here >>


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