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Walnut Township Schools levy renewal falls 32 votes short

LANCASTER – There are five boxes of provisional and absentee ballots still to be counted in Fairfield County, Walnut Township Schools Superintendent Ron Thornton said Wednesday morning.

“They (Board of Elections) have no idea how many there are,” he added. Unofficial results show the renewal of the district’s emergency operating levy falling short by 32 votes – 1,137 “no” votes to 1,105 “yes” votes. Thornton doubts that there are enough uncounted votes from the district to make up the deficit. “It is almost impossible,” he said.

The five year emergency levy raises $258,000 a year and will be collected through 2009. That gives the district two more free opportunities to place the issue before voters again – May and November 2009.

Thornton will recommend to board of education members that it be placed on the May 2009 ballot. “Right now we’re just going to have get the word out,” he added. “We’re not asking for more money.” In fact, property owners will pay a lower rate next year than this year thanks to additions to the property tax base and valuation changes.

Thornton doesn’t expect to discuss any possible cuts unless voters reject the renewal in May. “That money is absolutely being counted on,” he explained.

In other Fairfield County election results, both incumbent county commissioners on the ballot won new four-year terms. Commissioner Judith Shupe defeated challenger Karl Stalter by a 36,810 to 25,834 margin. Commissioner Jon Myers bested challenger George Hallarn by a 37,193 to 25,687 tally.

Ten incumbents were unopposed Tuesday – District 5 State Representative Gerald Stebelton, County Prosecutor David Landefeld, Clerk of Courts Deborah Smalley, Sheriff Dave Phalen, County Recorder Gene Wood, County Treasurer Jon Slater Jr., County Engineer Frank Anderson, County Coroner Thomas Vajen, Common Pleas Court Judge Chris Martin and Common Pleas Court Judge – Juvenile/Probate Division Steven Williams.

The two county-wide issues were approved. A .5 mill renewal levy for the Fairfield County District Library was approved by a 25,634 to 18,641 vote. A .5 mill replacement levy for Fairfield County Meals on Wheels was also approved by a large margin – 50,606 to 17,469.

The Village of Millersport’s 2.7 mill replacement levy for current expenses was approved for another five years by a 292 to 204 margin.

Pleasantville voters also approved the renewal of a 1 mill, five year levy for current expenses. The vote was 192 to 127.

Baltimore voters approved a referendum petition to change from partisan to non-partisan elections for village offices by a 691 to 510 vote.

Proponents, who included at least two village council members, contended that the village is likely the only non-charter municipality in the state using the partisan system. That system requires a primary election if the number of candidates from one party exceeds the number of positions open. They claimed that the primary could be costly if no other issues were on the ballot.

Mayor Bob Kalish opposed the change, noting that a nonpartisan election could have a number of candidates running for mayor, potentially creating a situation where the winner could receive significantly less than a majority of the votes. Kalish also wrote that the change would allow state, county and city employees who live in Baltimore to become elected officials. Kalish believes village council members should be from the private sector.

County-wide voter turnout was 66.6 percent. In Millersport, 64.6 percent of registered voters voted on the levy replacement., 65.6 percent of Baltimore’s registered voters voted on the referendum proposal and 66.2 percent of the registered voters in the Walnut Township School District voted on the levy renewal.

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