Voters support Norwalk library, aquatic center but say no to M’ville income tax, county health district issue

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM

The Norwalk library and aquatic center came away victorious with their ballot issues in Tuesday’s general election.

Voters also smiled on the Monroeville school district. Monroeville’s village wasn’t as fortunate. Neither was the Huron County General Health District.

In the Plymouth-Shiloh district, voters said no — and that was a good thing for school officials. A pair of issues seeking to repeal funding were defeated. (A separate story appears on page xx)

Overall, only four of the 17 issues in Huron County failed, and that included the Plymouth-Shiloh pair.

Norwalk Public Library Director Martin Haffey is pleased the voters overwhelmingly approved its renewal levy.

Seventy-eight percent of the Norwalk City School District voters supported the renewal of the 0.55 mill for current expenses. The five-year tax starts next year, with the first tax due in calendar year 2009.

“Passing the levy was pretty critical. We needed this money for the increased operation and building maintenance costs,” Haffey explained.

He admitted Tuesday night to being confident the issue would pass. Haffey credited the levy committee, Citizens for the Library, with promoting the tax on yard signs and pizza boxes.

“They really worked hard. The results showed,” he said.

In other local issues, the five-year renewal to maintain and operate the Ernsthausen Aquatic Center passed 55 to 45 percent. The tax will generate about $120,000 annually.

Superintendent Ken Leber noted that Norwalk residents have a history of supporting recreational activities. He said it was reassuring to know that tradition continues despite difficult economic times.

“I’d like to thank the community for its continued support,” Leber said.

The following is a round-up of other area issues:

n The Huron County General Health District won’t get its new building since 57 percent of the votes were against and 43 percent of the voters supported the additional money to carry out its health program for 10 years.

Huron district officials were asking voters for a 0.3 mill tax levy to relocate its office to a more handicapped accessible, HIPAA compliant, secure, modern facility. Additionally, the levy would have been used to renovate, equip and supply a dental clinic.

The levy would have generated $279,000 per year for 10 years and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $9.19 per year. The average Huron County home is worth $95,100, according to the office of strategic research.

The health district was pursuing the new location because future grant funding and medical services will be tied to new state standards.

The present facility does not meet the minimum state standards for handicap accessibility, privacy or security, officials said. They considered all options for meeting the new standards, including renovations at its current location.

Also, dental health services would have been made available on a sliding fee scale to anyone without dental insurance or access to a private dentist. The health department was pursuing the dental clinic because oral health affects physical health, employability and pain. Access to dental care consistently comes up on statistical health assessments of Huron County residents among the top concerns and unmet needs of Huron County residents.

n The Monroeville village 1-percent income tax failed, 59 percent to 41.

It will mark the second straight defeat for the same tax. Last year's measure failed 292 to 140, or 68 percent to 32 percent. Had it passed, the measure would have raised about $240,000 annually for various village services.

Village Clerk/Treasurer Bonnie Beck, who retained her position in Tuesday’s election, said the village also depends, for example, on local government revenue assistance from the state. However, after 9/11, state officials placed a freeze on those funds, and have yet to lift it.

The village instituted a wage freeze in 2004, and since that time has not enacted a wage increase larger than 25 cents an hour, Beck said.

Street paving, sewer work, building maintenance, and the ability to receive grant money has suffered, village councilman Robert Simon said. While the village cut services in the wake of last year's levy's failure, more could be on the way, he added.

n The Monroeville Local School District got good news with the passing of both its permanent improvement renewal levy (65 percent to 35) and its 3.2 mill providing for emergency expenses (57 percent to 43). Oxford Township voters in Erie County supported the renewal 63 percent to 37 and the emergency tax 61 to 39.

Superintendent Carol Girton expects the district to save about $120,000 annually since teachers gave up that much in concessions when they signed their new three-year contract, effective in July.

“I think the district knows we are trying to save money,” she said. “We haven’t asked for new money since 1997.”

n The Bellevue city park and recreation 0.5-mill levy passed 59 percent to 41.

n The Greenwich village library tax levy renewal passed 78 percent to 22. The 0.5 mill for current expenses lasts five years.

n The Lyme Township renewal levy passed 69 percent to 31. The first tax is due in calendar year 2009.

n Norwalk’s Wal-Mart will be allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays, thanks to 55 percent of the voters in precinct Norwalk 1-B supporting the issue.

n The Pioneer Joint Vocational School District general permanent improvement barely passed 52 percent to 48. The five-year tax starts in 2008, with the first one due in calendar year 2009.

n The Plymouth village tax renewal for cemetery maintenance overwhelmingly passed, 71 percent to 29.

n The Ridgefield Township tax renewal for maintaining and operating ambulance service passed 76 percent to 24. The five-year tax starts in 2008, with the first one due in calendar year 2009.

n The Ridgefield Township tax renewal for cemetery maintenance passed by large margin, 74 percent to 26.

n The Milan village tax levy replacement for current operating expenses passed 52 percent to 48. The five-year tax starts this year, with the first one due next year.

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