2007-11-10 / Front Page

Lakewood levies defeated

Licking County results held many surprises
By Scott Rawdon and Charles Prince

NEWARK- Voters dealt a double blow to Lakewood Local Schools by rejecting both levies on Tuesday's ballot.

The renewal of an emergency levy first approved in 2003 was turned down by a 2,095 to 1,740 unofficial tally. Though Lakewood would not receive any more money during the five-year renewal, the actual ballot language was confusing since it included the word "increase." That language was required so Lakewood could continue to receive $294,613 reimbursement from the State of Ohio to replace some of their lost tangible personal property tax revenue. That tax is being gradually eliminated.

District officials made numerous efforts to explain that it wasn't an increase for the district, but Superintendent Jay Gault believes the language confused some voters who perhaps thought that the district wasn't being honest with them. A plan to reduce the district's reliance on property taxes via a one percent income tax on just earned income was crushed by voters by a 2,549 to 1,286 vote. The proposed income tax would not have taxed Social Security, retirements, pensions, interest, dividends or capital gains.

"We've got to figure out where to go next," Gault told The Beacon Wednesday morning. The two rejected levies would represent about 20 percent of the district's budget, he said. "That's pretty drastic. We've got to figure out how to survive."

The district will continue to collect the emergency levy through 2008 and will have an opportunity to renew it in March and November. There's not much time to make a decision about what to do in March, Gault said. The deadline to get on the ballot for the March presidential primary is December 20. "I think that's going to be real difficult," he added.

"Our community is feeling the same pain we are," Gault explained. Both are reeling from high fuel prices. Gault said the district's most recent load of diesel fuel was 55¢ a gallon above the budgeted price. He acknowledged the difficultyin asking voters to help the district with rising prices while voters are also struggling with those price increases themselves.

Lakewood's next regular board of education meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14 in the high school library. Members might have a work session before that meeting. "We've got to talk about it," Gault said. "We've got to decide what to do."

In Buckeye Lake, village council member Donna Thompson was thrilled to learn that although she was just appointed to a council position in September, she received the most votes of the fivecandidates running for council. All candidates are incumbents. According to unofficialresults from the Licking County Board of Elections, Thompson tallied 266 votes, followed by candidates Drew Bourne and Jeryne Peterson, tied at 248 votes, Hilde Hildebrandt with 189 votes, and Charlene Hayden with 180.

There were only four positions open for council, but Hayden will continue to serve on council for at least two years because in September she was appointed to fillthe seat vacated by former council member John Cortez, who still had two years left on his term when he was dismissed for missing too many council meetings. Thompson filled the position left open by Hayden's move.

"I thank the people from the bottom of my heart," said Thompson. "They're my people; I call them my people." She believes she won the most votes because she is constantly listening and speaking to everyone in the village. Thompson said she's tired of people on council saying there are illiterate and poor people in the village. "One person's on their side," she said, referring to herself. She hopes everyone can work together to bring a public water system to the village, and to gain more support for the police and firedepartments. "I hope and pray the village turns around for the better," she said.

Also in the Village of Buckeye Lake, a five-mills firedepartment levy passed 275 to 213 votes, and three village charter amendments passed collectively by 240 votes to 235.

In other lake area Licking County elections:

• There were many changes in Kirkersville as mayoral candidate Terry Ashcraft defeated incumbent Mayor Bennie Evans 103 votes to 77. "It sends a strong message about the reckless spending they've been doing," said Ashcraft, adding that he wasn't satisfied with the conditions of the roads or with a public water system survey. "I think they missed a lot of houses," he said, stressing that he's not opposed to public water. "We've got a lot of work ahead of us," said Ashcraft. "I think we'll get things turned around."

Council candidates Gary Raines and Erika Mudd won seats on council with 109 and 92 votes respectively, while candidate Steve Martin was defeated with 70 votes. A three-mills current expenses levy failed 80 votes for to 99 against. The village has one more opportunity to vote for the levy before it expires.

• Incumbent Union Township Trustee John Slater defeated second-time challenger Charles Prince in a close race, 990 votes to 958, respectively. Union Township Fiscal OfficerAmanda Griffith ran unopposed, with 1346 votes.

• In Licking Township, Joseph E. Hart derailed Ron Acord's bid for a seventh term as trustee bya 596 to 529 vote. John D. Freas garnered 150 votes. "First, I consider it a privilege to be elected in Licking Township and represent our residents," Hart told The Beacon. "It is my full intention to live up to what I printed in my brochure. I'm looking forward to making a positive contribu- tion. Fiscal OfficerJill Linn was unopposed.

A Licking Township one-mill firelevy passed overwhelmingly 889 votes to 452.

• Hebron Village Council incumbents Robert Gilbert, who garnered 315 votes, and John Fry, who tallied 217 votes, retained their council positions, while challenger Robert Dale Burns came in third for the two seats with 209 votes. Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason ran unopposed, receiving 406 votes.

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