Leaders offer comments on approval of school, library, charter issues

Staff Report

Voters have approved renewal levies for the Cuyahoga Falls City School District, the Woodridge Local School District, as well as a renewal levy for the Cuyahoga Falls Library and an amendment to the city charter, according to final, but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections.

The board of elections must certify the results of Tuesday's election by Nov. 18, which is the deadline for the Ohio Secretary of State's Office to receive the official count.

Cuyahoga Falls City School District voters approved Issue 36, a five-year renewal of a 7.9-mill levy for operating expenses, by a margin of 12,801 to 8,161, or about 61% to 39%. The tax issue generates $5.7 million annually, which is about 10% of the district's general fund operating budget, according to Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols. The levy costs $222 annually per $100,000 property valuation.

"We are thrilled and deeply grateful for the support of our school district demonstrated by the community, especially in these uncertain times," said Nichols. "We could not have been successful without the help of an amazing levy committee team comprised of community members. We are so proud of all the great things happening in Cuyahoga Falls City Schools and are committed to providing every student, every opportunity, every day. Thank you, Cuyahoga Falls!"

Woodridge Local School District voters approved Issue 43, the renewal of a 2.09-mill levy for 10 years for operating expenses, 5,910 to 4,173, or about 59% to 41%. The levy is the smallest one that the district has on its books and generates a little more than $1 million per year, said District Treasurer Tom Morehouse. The levy costs $64 per year per $100,000 property valuation.

District Superintendent Walter Davis said he was "very pleased" that the renewal request was passed by voters. If the tax issue had failed, Davis said the district would've been "forced…to make reductions that would have impacted programming."

"We are working hard every day to use tax receipts to provide the very best opportunities we can for district students," stated Davis. "With the support of the voters, we will be able to move forward maintaining the programs and services our students deserve and our community expects."

Both the Cuyahoga Falls and Woodridge school levies expire at the end of 2020.

Voters also approved Issue 45, a five-year renewal of a 1.9-mill levy for the Cuyahoga Falls Library, by an unofficial tally of 14,136 to 6,862, or about 67% to 33%.

Laura Searle, the library’s fiscal officer, said the five-year levy was last approved in March 2016 and generates $1.374 million per year, which is 48% of the facility’s revenues.

The tax issue helps pay for operational expenses of the library such as salaries, utilities, programming, and materials. The library will continue to receive property tax money on the existing levy through the end of 2021, according to Searle, who noted the levy had to be renewed by the end of 2021 to ensure uninterrupted collection of funds. The current levy expires December 2021, but Tuesday's passage of the renewal levy means that collection will continue for five more years.

"The library is grateful to our community for the passage of … Issue 45," said Valerie Kocin, the library's director. " …The acknowledgement and support from the community is gratifying. Kudos to the Board of Trustees for setting the mission and vision for the organization. Bravo to the entire staff for their exceptional execution of Cuyahoga Falls Library strategic initiatives."

Kocin noted her staff has displayed "poise, professionalism and kindness" during the pandemic, and also offered kudos to Board members Debbie Ziccardi and Bob Heydorn for their "tireless work and leadership" of the levy committee. She added the library will continue to improve computer and online services, to maintain the building for the next generation of facility users, and expand educational programming for students and technology programming for all patrons.

City voters also approved Issue 13, an amendment to the city charter, 15,302 to 7,856, or about 66% to 34%.

The amendment makes the city council representative on the planning commission a non-voting member and will add a seventh member to the commission. That seventh member, as with six of the seven current members of the planning commission, would be appointed by the mayor and approved by the majority of council.

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