Norwalk City Schools to learn levy fate tomorrow

Local voters to decide several ballot issues Tuesday.
Aaron Krause
May 5, 2014

 

Area voters will be asked to pass several issues on the May 6 primary ballot. The following is a round-up.

Voters in the Norwalk City Schools district will consider an additional 4.95 mills tax levy for five years. Superintendent Dennis Doughty has said it’s been 23 years since voters passed the last operating levy.

Due to the loss of state and federal funds, the district finds themselves in a shortfall, Doughty said.

“In the last five years, 49 full- and part-time positions have been eliminated in the district. In spite of the local cuts that have been made, increased costs for operations are readily apparent,” he said. “This levy is limited in both dollars asked for and limited in time. The 5 mills for operating funds will get the district through the next five years.”

Norwalk residents in wards 1, 2, 3 and 4 will consider a charter amendment to change council terms from two to four years. The four ward members would be elected for a term of four years and the at-large members would be elected for two years.

Thereafter, the term of office for all council members would be four years. In essence, there could only be four new members at a time.

The same voters will consider an amendment regarding the appointment of police and fire chief. Specifically, if nobody in either department is qualified or applies for the position, the chief’s selection committee can advertise to hire from outside the department.

Willard City Schools district voters will consider renewing a 5.4 mill levy, which has been on the books for the past 10 years and doesn’t ask for new money.

“This levy is used to fund many different educational options and activities throughout the district,” according to information provided by the district. “It is currently being used to fund all aides not required by law (mainly at Central Elementary), our performing arts program, art and language programs, agricultural education, family consumer science, athletics, high school business and smaller class sizes at the elementary level.

“The passage of this levy is crucial to our district to continue to be able to offer all of these programs.”

Voters in Clarksfield Township will be asked to renew a levy for the purpose of general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of streets, roads and bridges. They also will consider the 5-year, .4 mill measure, designed to pay for current expenses.

In addition, Clarksfield Township voters will consider renewing a levy for the general construction, reconstruction, resurfacing and repair of streets, roads and bridges. This is a 0.9 mill levy for five years.

Voters in Greenwich Township, Greenwich village and Ripley Township will consider renewing a .75 mill, three-year levy for ambulance and emergency medical services.

Wakeman village voters will be asked to renew a 1 percent, five-year levy for general operating expenses.

Clarksfield Township voters who live in the Wellington Exempted Village School District will consider renewing a 5.27 mills, 10-year renewal for emergency requirements.

All Erie County voters will consider a replacement and additional levy for Erie MetroParks. According to ballot language, it’s “for the purpose of operation, promoting, conserving, acquiring, developing, improving and protecting lands and water areas as parks, parkways and forest reservations for the recreation, health benefit and general welfare of the citizens of Erie County.” The rate is not to exceed 0.6 mill for each $1 of valuation, which amounts to $0.06 for each $100 of valuation for 10 years commencing in 2014, first due in calendar year 2015. An existing levy of 0.5 mill, having two years remaining, will be canceled and replaced if the levy passes.

Comments

NO NEW TAX

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Tell it how it is.

I am voting yes. I don't want to see our schools lose all of the programming that makes Norwalk special. It is my civil duty to help fund their continued success.

A Marine Mom

I will be tickled to death that you vote 'Yes'...as long as you OWN vs RENT your home since this applies to the Real Estate Tax that homeowners currently pay. You rent and it passes, you're not out one penny. You own and it passes, your money goes to the school and 'the kids' benefit from the increase. :)

luvblues2

That isn't so AMM. The landlords raise the rent as taxes increase.

A Marine Mom

100% of them do? If so, that is great!

NO NEW TAX

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earlduck

my kids went to college believing that Norwalk schools were special,it didn't take long for them to find out they are mediocre at best after meeting kids from all over the country

proudparent

Before you vote yes, please look at the salaries of our district employees and understand why this levy is needed! This money is NOT going to the students!

NUMBERS DO NOT LIE:

FACT: 41% of all Norwalk City School employees make over $35+ per hour worked.
FACT: 84% of all Norwalk City School employees work PART TIME (2.5 days more than half a year)
FACT: 58% of all Norwalk City School employees make more than $60K salaries based on pro-rated pay or equivalent to the private sector.

Check the facts here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsh...

As of March 2014 Huron County is now 4th out of 88 counties with the highest unemployment at 10.4%. (http://ohiolmi.com/laus/ColorRat...)

The phrase "teachers are underpaid" is not true. They are making VERY good money and especially for where we live! It's time for a reality check. Our community cannot support $35+ per hour for part time work!

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear the staff of Norwalk City Schools took a 5% pay cut across the board in order to save the district from making cuts and avoid a levy? Oh no, lets cling to our purse strings and beg the taxpayers to hand it over! Guess what- we don’t have the money! We are trying to keep our jobs and our properties.

It’s time for the schools to communicate the real story. They are NOT willing to sacrifice for the betterment of our schools. They will fight tooth and nail to keep their high wages all while watching businesses and jobs continue to leave Norwalk. The tax base in Norwalk is diminishing….time for the schools to live within their budget and make those 900K worth of cuts!

VOTE NO! VOTE NO! VOTE NO!

NO NEW TAX

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Blaze

No matter how you strew your "facts" teachers are not part time. They make a decent living I'll give you that, but they are not making a killing by any means. As I type this I'm wondering why I even try anymore. I've come to the realization that some people are just so set in their thinking they are not open to look at the other side.

A Marine Mom

I feel the same way. Who is right and who is wrong? Do either of us have all of the facts? Does anyone? So many factors, opinions, etc..who knows what to think or believe. I guess my way of thinking is this: Can I afford the tax increase and still pay the rest of my living expenses? Yes. With the sky high and continually climbing unemployment rates and rising costs of everything I am frightened for everyone.There is no guarantee that I will have a job tomorrow and when I read the columns of foreclosures in the paper it breaks my heart. Our friends and neighbors are losing their houses, folks. Not many people can survive without a place to call home.
Please vote tomorrow...for or against. Just vote.

Estrella Damm

I like how many of those teachers can get their work done within the confines of the 7.75 hour work day that you list, impressive! They must be the best teachers ever, either that or none of them grade papers, or have lesson plans, or write IEP's, or have to continue their own education to be compliant with the state, or any other out of school activity.

proudparent

Plenty of salaried professionals who are paid for 40 hours per week 240+ days a year work unpaid overtime. They do work outside of their required hours just as the teachers do.

It doesn't negate the fact the districts wages for contracted hours are out of balance with the average salaries and hourly rates of most residents of Norwalk. Our community cannot continue to support this discrepancy. Bring the districts wages back in balance with what we the taxpayers can afford.

Estrella Damm

So when i read the word "FACT" it is not really a "FACT" but rather an assumption for his spreadsheet that may actually be untrue?

proudparent

All salary data on the spreadsheet was downloaded from buckeyeinstitute.org. It's public record.

A Marine Mom

I love you proudparent!!!! People need to wake up and educate themselves when it comes to taxes, unemployment etc....thank you for your post here and on the Scott Ford(one who pouts because the entire city isn't in favor of increasing a tax that he DOES NOT PAY but reaps its rewards) article. You rock!

LevywithoutJobs

Levies without Jobs, can it work?

It may be time for civic leaders and educators of Norwalk to review some growing and disconcerting facts. The State of Ohio, in March 2014 reports Huron Co is ranked the 4th highest in unemployment of all 88 counties in Ohio. The loss in businesses, stores, companies, manufacturing, and jobs has lead to a significant decline in revenue to support it's city and schools. Economically this is a troubling sign for any infrastructure.

In 2010 the Register reported Huron county led the state with the highest rate of failed mortgages in all of Ohio, a warning flag which should have caused concerns of the grave financial stress within a community.

Huron county also has one of the higher sales taxes when compared to it's nearby and neighboring counties of Lorain, Ashland, Richland, and Ottawa. While some may think this is only a small percentage, every dollar taken from an unfilled wallet leaves less and less for local spending. See references below.

Despite being in a state of economic decline, highest unemployment, fewer jobs, limited growth, reduced overall income, and an overtly strained taxed system, respected school members and administrators are seeking to add greater burden on every property owner, business, renter, and resident with a new levy. I have no better word to describe this than fiscal suicide.

I'd like someone teaching economics to explain how do you draw more from a near empty cash drawer? How do you take more from those who lost their jobs or from those working part time, or from the “under-employed”, or from those who salaries have been frozen. Will families move, sell, abandon, or foreclose with less or greater numbers? Will businesses leave or employ more with less than they have now to hire and will schools have less or more as a result. You must have increasing employment, revenue, and growth to increase levies.

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
http://ohiolmi.com/laus/Ranking.pdf
http://www.tax.ohio.gov/portals/...

goreflect

I am voting NO! Maybe they should check out some of the administrations salaries! Doughty makes over 110,000 a year! That is over $2000 a week! Sue Goodsite - over $99,000 a year and she isn't required to work the entire year! They are not the only "overpaid" people in administration!

keystone

Don't forget, Doughty also gets 5 weeks paid vacation each year. Maybe they should switch Goodsite's and Doughty's position. After all, she does more work and is worth more than Doughty.

I might add, I have no connection to Sue Goodsite.

If it wasn't for Sue Goodsite finding grants for Norwalk, the levy might have been higher.

when Cashen ran for the board, he claimed he had expertise in budgets. Why haven't we heard from him helping with this expertise and offering solutions to the cuts.

Norwalk Lifer

What should they make? Mr. Doughty has 25+ years of admin experience and advanced degrees. Mrs. Goodsite has similar. Do you know how much money people in the private sector make with those credentials?

NO NEW TAX

If he's really worth that much then maybe he should go somewhere that can afford him.

Now The Rest of...

Teachers are full time, yet they only work 182 days a year compared to most private and public sector workers who work 240 plus days to be considered full time. What other profession receives automatic pay raise every year, STEP raises for teachers. Schools receive 66% of all property taxes in Norwalk plus an additional income tax, all other levels of government split the remaining 33% to operate 24/7, 365 days a year. Until the schools learn to live within a reduced budget and not hide behind misleading and phantom cuts a NO vote is the only responsible choice.

kaejcc

Just say NO!

Tershes

To the simple minded “NO NEW TAX” Folks who use that “dump button” without listening to the narrative of why they are going for the levy OR for taking the time to “connect the dots”. To preface my remarks: I do not like new taxes; I do not like wasteful government; I do not like inefficient government (bang for your buck). But I have been a critic of many of the moves the Norwalk School district made in the past few years (clustering, bus routes, class scheduling). But now it is clear to me what they were doing YEARS ago even though they were not fessing up that their hand was being moved by future fiscal concerns (budget cuts). When you look at the Norwalk School District and what they have done over the past few years to be lean, mean and still turn out a product that rivals a private education, they should be used as an example of best practices. You have an over achieving school district on education benchmarks. You have a school that offers great extracurricular activities in the arts, sports and science that rivals you high dollar private school. You have excellent community involvement in the schools. The “No Tax” folks must have flunked economics 101 as they do not have a general idea of investment returns. You strive for maximum efficiency. Obviously you reach a point of maximum efficiency (simple equation a+b-c=d. A= taxes (our contribution); B= cost quality of education (quality of teachers, infrastructure); C= inefficiency factor (bad teacher, poor fiscal practices, inefficient equipment); D= end product (test scores, quality of their educational experience (extracurricular) . If I were to do a comparative, we would have close to a 98 to 100% rating for what we pay per student; what we get in return. You cut from that perfect formula, something has to give. Sports, extracurricular activities.

NO NEW TAX

Regardless of what you think, I know exactly why I'm voting NO. There are still cuts to be made. Do you honestly think that we're not a bit heavy in administrative costs? We are the 4th worst county in the state for jobs, and have school employees making 6 figures. I'm not saying they aren't worth it, but they need to go somewhere that can afford them. This area doesn't have that kind of money to spend. Also, let's not forget the sports complex example.... Again, the schools want to spend money they don't have. The operating and maintenance expenses aren't going to be free, plus they're going to have to add a position to staff it. Open up your eyes for goodness sakes. And as for your nice little math equation, why don't you try plugging in some real numbers? I think you're exaggerating just a bit, don't you? Your 98 to 100% rating per student lands you right on the moon.

proudparent

Let's address B in your equation which is where this levy money is going. Are you saying the quality of our teachers will go down if we don't pass the levy? Wouldn't our current great teachers still be great regardless?

If this levy would actually be for improved infrastructure benefiting THE STUDENTS and not employee salaries- all of us "simple minded no tax people" might actually consider voting YES.

Tershes

To connect the dots: I do not want new taxes because I do not have a kid in the schools. Well economic development in being able to attract new businesses to Norwalk is DIRECTLY TIED to the schools. Why in the world would a company in this day in age want to relocate to Norwalk when they do not have SUPPORTED schools. If they want to grow a company, a quality of life is PRIMO!. They want to have a happy work force and EDUCATED workforce. So if you are one of those that was recently laid off from a company that relocated to another city (domestically). They were lured away from Norwalk by a nice package that included a great school system. As a business owner one of the reasons why I came back was the schools. Now that I have kids, their education is my top priority. And if this school system falters due to short sighted “no new tax folks”, I will join the exodus (along with other companies.) the ripple effect of this , has an impact on US ALL. More retail shops close because there is no new money in town to support people buying from these stores. City services will be cut affecting our quality of life. You do not have to go far to see a city that was once bustling and top of its game and now it is a dilapidated ghost town (Mansfield). If this levy fails, in a few years, I will be replying from afar saying “I told you so”. If you are a “no new tax folk” you surely have to be for efficient government. Take the time and go to the Norwalk City School’s website and actually READ what steps they have taken to be efficient. READ how they measure against similar schools (cost per student AND student scores). Take in that the Feds and Ohio is cutting down on the investment.

NO NEW TAX

So do you have a kid in school or not? You seem to be contradicting yourself. Kind of curious where some of your info comes from? I've been to the school website many times and can't recall ever reading how our schools compare in cost per student with other schools.

proudparent

Businesses will move into Norwalk with tax breaks….NOT tax increases. They will look to find a school district with a stable budget and not one that will repeatedly ask for additional property tax on the business start-up.

With unemployment as high as it is in this county- you will see a “happy” workforce when they actually have a job and can support their families.

I chose to live in this community for many reasons including the fact we had affordable property taxes while still having a great school system. More money does NOT = great teachers! Great teachers are great teachers regardless.

Keep raising taxes on businesses; property owners and all residents in Norwalk and, you are correct-we will be forced to move out of this city.

NO NEW TAX

What you are saying couldn't be anymore true. I've lived in this town my whole life and can not remember 1 time that the schools have given a tax break to help lure in new business. This is becoming a town of haves and have not, where school employees have and everyone else has not.

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