CLEVELAND, Ohio — With just over half of precincts counted in the May 4 primary, school tax increases are failing in North Olmsted, Parma and Rocky River.
In Strongsville, voters are rejecting a fire and EMS tax increase in early returns. Strongsville has 19% unofficial voter turnout, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.
In Cuyahoga County, 11 municipalities had elections Tuesday. About 9% of the 203,000 registered voters in those municipalities requested early ballots. According to the county’s Board of Elections, 81% of mail-in ballots were returned. Early in-person votes are in for all 11 municipalities.
Of the three school districts with tax increases, Rocky River has the highest unofficial voter turnout at 27%. North Olmsted and Parma are second and third, respectively, at 22% and 20%.
Here are the results so far for each of the four tax increases. Check back for final results.
North Olmsted residents are currently heavily leaning no to the tax increase for the city’s school district, with 70.75% against the increase and 29.25% for it, with only early voting reported. No precinct votes had been counted by 9:45 p.m.
The district asked for an 8.5-mill increase on current expenses, an increase to $297.50 a year in new taxes per $100,000 of home value.
Superintendent Michael Zalar said in February that the district was at a point where the request needed to be made to keep providing a good school system for the community. Zalar said if voters didn’t approve the tax there could be major consequences.
“If we’re not successful, the district will be forced to look at areas in our operations that we will need to reduce or eliminate services and programs for students,” Zalar said. “That’s certainly not something we want to do.”
With two issues on the ballot, Parma residents are currently voting no as 63.11% are against the bond issue and levy and 36.89% are for it. Thirty-one of 60 precincts were counted by 9:45 p.m.
The first one is a 5.9-mill, $271 million bond issue for 37 years that would amount to $206.50 a year in new taxes per $100,000 of home value. It would be for two new school buildings and facilities for grades 6-12, and upgrades and renovations to other buildings, including improvements for the existing Parma Senior High School.
The second issue was a 0.4-mill increase in taxes for construction, enlargement, renovation, and financing that would amount to $14 a year in new taxes per $100,000 of home value. There is no expiration date.
“Our need is real,” said district spokeswoman Audrey Holtzman in February. “Quite simply, we should no longer be a three high school district. Passage of this bond issue will allow us to cut the number of high school and middle school buildings we operate from six to two.”
Issue 11 in Rocky River is currently leaning toward not passing, with 53.63% of voters against the levy and 46.37% for it. Nine of 12, or 75%, of precincts had been counted by 9:45 p.m.
Rocky River schools requested a 4.9-mill increase in taxes for current expenses, amounting to $171.50 a year in new taxes per $100,000 of home value. There is no expiration date.
The district has a 1-mill tax expiring, so if the new tax passes, the actual increase on tax bills will be $140.88 a year in new taxes per 100,000 of home value.
Superintendent Michael Shoaf said in February that the planning for the request has gone on for more than three years, with the money needed to cover operational costs and current building operations. The tax will also allow the district to purchase new buses, technology and textbooks.
Strongsville residents are currently against the city’s desires to expand staffing in its fire department, as 57.11% oppose the levy and 42.89% support it. Nine of 24 precincts, or 38%, had been counted by 9:45 p.m.
The city wanted a 2-mill increase in taxes for fire and emergency medical service equipment and personnel, amounting to $70 a year in new taxes per $100,000 of home value. There is no expiration date.
The tax levy would help increase staffing, said Strongsville Fire Chief Jack Draves in February. Draves said the goal is to increase staffing by up to 20 firefighters. The city asked voters to pass a similar tax increase last fall but it was not approved.
“Since it failed in the fall, we’re going back to the voters with a revised amount of millage and the language and has been reworded to be more clear, which is some feedback we got from residents,” Draves said.