Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Lakota, Fairfield levies rejected


Both districts likely to put issue back on ballot

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

COMPLETE COVERAGE
Cincinnati.com Special Election Coverage
Parents in the Lakota Schools will reach farther into their pocketbooks next fall to pay for athletics while those in Fairfield will spend more time as chauffeurs if voters continue their early trends of rejecting levies in both Butler County districts.

School officials said it is likely both issues could return to the ballot before year's end, perhaps as early as the August special election. That's about the same time that more than $6 million of cuts in Lakota and $3 million in Fairfield - including high school busing - are slated to take effect.

In early returns, voters were turning down a combination issue in Lakota, 69 percent to 31 percent, that would have provided about $20 million annually for day-to-day operations and $84.9 million for new school construction and renovation of existing buildings. Taxes would have increased $536 annually on a $150,000 house.

In Fairfield the continuing levy was going down to defeat, 58 percent to 42 percent. It would have brought about $9.1 million annually to district coffers for day-to-day operations. Taxes would have increased about $211 annually on a $100,000 house. The issue is likely to be discussed at Thursday's 5 p.m. board of education meeting at central offices.

Those patterns mirrored trends elsewhere in Butler, Warren and Clermont counties, where few issues were passing. In Butler County, early returns showed all fives issues on the ballot failing.

Even a three-year renewal levy in Middletown - one that wouldn't raise taxes - was being rejected.

"Regardless of the outcome we have several million dollars in cuts coming,'' said Jon Weidlich, Lakota spokesman. "We're going to look at the most cost-effective way to run the schools.''

Elsewhere:

• Mason voters were approving a $35 million bond issue with unofficial results showing the school tax issue, which will not raise taxes, ahead 65 percent to 35 percent.

• Loveland voters were rejecting the district's combination tax issue, which includes a 7-mill continuing levy that would raise $4.3 million annually and a new 5-mill continuing permanent improvement levy to raise $3 million. Unofficial results showed the combined tax issue trailing, 64 percent to 36 percent.

• Clermont Northeastern rejected a $1.2 million permanent improvement levy, 70 percent to 30 percent.

Enquirer reporter Michael D. Clark contributed. E-mail suek@infionline.net




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