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School, library operating levies on May 7 ballot

By Kevin Kelley

Westlake

Important funding measures for the library and school district will be determined in Tuesday’s primary election.

In Issue 15, Westlake Porter Public Library will ask voters to renew a 2.8-mill operating levy for another five years. The measure provides about three-fourths of the library’s annual $4.7 million budget. The current levy expires at the end of this year.

If the renewal is approved by voters, the owner of a house valued at $100,000 would pay $85.75 annually. The tax is expected to raise $3.82 million annually.

Library staff and backers say Porter has deserved continued support by expanding services in recent years. Since Aug. 10, the library has kept its doors open an hour longer on weekends, from 5 to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. And throughout 2013, Porter will be open on Sundays, even in the summer, Mangels said. Since last year, Porter cardholders can take advantage of a statewide library lending consortium and digital magazine subscriptions.

The Westlake City School District is seeking an additional $15 per month for every $100,000 of property value beginning next year with Issue 16, a 5.9-mill operating levy that will raise more than $8 million annually.

Issue 16 backers argue the new levy is needed to maintain the quality of public school education Westlake residents have come to expect. With deficits expected before the end of the 2014-2015 school year, the district will need to make cuts if the levy is not passed, Superintendent Dan Keenan has said.

Levy supporters point to concessions, including a salary cut and increase in health care contributions, that teachers made in their recent 18-month contract.

No organized group has made known to West Life its opposition to the levy. But there have been several reports of anonymous mailings to residents denouncing the levy. One criticizes teachers’ salaries, saying the financial burden should be more on district employees rather than taxpayers. The flier calls the tax request “Real money, proven waste,” a play on Issue 16 backers’ slogan, “Real need, proven value.”

Voters in Ward 2 will narrow the field of five City Council candidates to two in a nonpartisan primary election. Incumbent Jim Connole is not seeking re-election and is not endorsing anyone in the primary.

The contenders are Nate Cross, a current Westlake school board member; Marie Novak, a nurse who previously worked as an attorney; Nick Nunnari, the assistant service manager at John Lance Ford; Steve Presley, a member of the city’s Civil Service Commission and the city administrator and finance director for Pepper Pike; and Brian Thompson, an attorney and certified public accountant.

To read articles from West Life’s Westlake Primary Election Guide from the April 10 issue, go to http://westlife.northcoastnow.com/tag/elections/.

 

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