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Published: Monday, 5/19/2014 - Updated: 7 months ago

Residents say officials failed with message

Some citizens already feel ‘burden’ of taxes

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The 3.8-mill operational-levy request was defeated by more than 500 votes. The 3.8-mill operational-levy request was defeated by more than 500 votes.
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John Mangas, a Sylvania Township resident, openly declares he voted for the Sylvania Schools 3.8-mill operating levy May 6.

“Schools are one of the primary driving forces that drive sales and viability for any community. A school that offers a well-rounded body of academics and education are important to drive a diverse population to any community,” he said.

Mr. Mangas, 53, is also a real estate broker for ReMax Preferred Associates in Toledo, and owns rental property in Sylvania.

Despite his personal and professional beliefs on school levies, he said the school did not make its case for the levy to voters.

“A community has to see the value in the levy, and I’m not sure how well the message was crafted and delivered,” he said. “It is a challenge for any school to communicate what the levy is for and how it will be used,” he said in reference to differentiating between operational and capital levies.

The 3.8-mill operational-levy request was defeated by more than 500 votes. Final, unofficial results showed the levy failing with 4,864 “no” votes to 4,357 “yes” votes. Sylvania’s levy would have collected an estimated $4.9 million per year in revenue for personnel, curriculum, and technology expenses.

Carol Lindhuber, a senior citizen and city resident for 28 years, said she believes voters, especially senior citizen voters, are tax weary.

“It’s just a very heavy burden [taxes], especially when our state legislature last year phased out the homestead exemption for senior citizens,” she said.

The eligibility requirements for the tax credit were tightened in 2014. Qualifying individuals of 65 or older must have a household income that does not exceed $30,500. School officials said 70 percent of school district residents are senior citizens and other adults without children attending a district school.

According to the Lucas County Auditor’s Office the average value of a home in the Sylvania School District, including the city and township, is $153,456. Based on that figure, the school levy would cost the average homeowner $204.10 annually. Based on the average home value, such a property owner in the largest taxing district within the school district, Sylvania Township, already pays $4,500 in taxes annually. That includes taxes for the schools, fire, and Olander Park System.

Mrs. Lindhuber also says she thinks a Blade article that listed 14 salaries of administrators and principals a week before the primary election swayed voters.

Julie Hoffman, school board vice president, said the district has not provided raises “in years.”

“We gave a couple [3] of people a bump because they went from a introductory level status to a permanent status, so it was not technically a raise,” she said, adding that top administrators work year-round, beyond nine-to-five hours.

Ms. Hoffman said the board asked for what it believed was a relatively low tax levy because members appreciate that voters are tax weary. Past levies OK’d were 4.6 and 4.9-mills.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.



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