5 districts have levies on Tuesday’s ballot

Published: Monday, August 06, 2012 @ 3:05 PM
Updated: Monday, August 06, 2012 @ 3:05 PM

Tuesday’s special election includes just a handful of issues, but most represent millions of dollars for local school districts.

Xenia, Vandalia-Butler and Tipp City each have levies asking for new money, Northmont voters will decide on a renewal levy, and Bethel has both a renewal levy and a replacement levy on the ballot.

Districts cited declining property values and comprehensive state budget reductions for their decreased revenues, and have made cuts to school programs and personnel in addition to seeking levy funds.


In May, the Xenia Board of Education approved the outsourcing of three departments — transportation, custodial, and maintenance and information technology services — in a move that cut 88 jobs and was expected to save the district $5 million over five years.

The Greene County district announced tiered cuts in late April that would cut $2.6 million from the budget, in addition to the $8.6 million in reductions made since 2010. Those cuts included a three-year pay freeze for all staff and administrators, and the laying off of 30 employees.

Xenia’s levy on Tuesday’s ballot is a 1.5 percent earned income tax, which would replace the current 0.5 percent standard income tax. It is expected to generate $7.7 million annually for the district; it currently raises about $3 million per year.

The earned income tax would apply to salaries, wages, tips, bonuses and partnership income, but not to pension checks, investments, interest or capital gains income, all of which are taxed by the school district today. Social Security benefits, workers compensation, and most unemployment benefits are not taxable under either system, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

If that levy is approved, the new rate would take effect Jan. 1; if it is rejected, the current tax would continue through 2016.

Matt Thomas, whose Voices for Xenia Community Schools group started a petition in February calling for changes in the district’s leadership, said there is concern in the community about being “double taxed.”

“The bond issue that paid to build the elementary schools also starts in January,” Thomas said. “Parents are going to have a hard time making ends meet.”

Greene County Auditor David Graham confirmed that this bond, passed in November 2009, will cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $86 per year.

Mark Manley, spokesman for Xenia Community Schools, agreed the timing of the bond collection is “a complication,” but said the funds from Tuesday’s levy are imperative to the district’s operations.

If the Xenia levy fails Tuesday, Manley said an additional $550,000 in cuts to positions and programs would have to be made immediately, and the district likely would be back on ballot in November.


Vandalia-Butler City Schools has a 6.99-mill operating and permanent improvement levy on Tuesday’s ballot.

The permanent levy is expected to cost the owner of a $100,000 house roughly $214 per year and generate $3.9 million for the Montgomery County district.

In April, the district announced plans to cut costs by $7 million over two years by eliminating 32 positions; reducing busing, gifted and summer school programs; freezing technology spending; and implementing pay-to-participate fees.

Vandalia-Butler Treasurer Dan Schall said a levy failure would mean additional cuts.

“If the levy doesn’t pass, we will have to redefine our current programming standards,” Schall said. “There is a potential for huge losses in personnel, bigger class sizes and decreased programming.”

However, some local residents believe school districts should find other ways to fund their operations.

Ben Jones, a Butler Twp. resident, said public education has grown to expect too much funding.

“Not passing the school levy will force the discussion of how costs can be reduced and still maintain the high level of service that the school has built a reputation around,” Jones said of Vandalia-Butler.

Like Xenia, Vandalia-Butler and Tipp City officials said they plan to have levies on the ballot in November if their issues fail Tuesday.

Tipp City

Tipp City Exempted Village Schools made $1.3 million in budget reductions this spring, including cutting 10.5 positions, reducing busing, cutting six assistant coach positions and increasing pay-to-participate fees by 50 percent.

The Miami County district has a five-year, 7.95-mill emergency levy on Tuesday’s ballot that is expected to generate $3 million annually.

In addition to declining revenue, the district cited the impending expiration of a three-year renewal levy for the timing of this levy.

It should cost the owner of a $100,000 house roughly $243 per year.

Northmont, Bethel

Northmont City Schools is seeking to renew a five-year, 5.9-mill operating levy. It will continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $180 annually and generate $3.6 million for the district.

The Montgomery County district made multimillion-dollar cuts in 2011 that impacted programming and personnel, in addition to implementing a three-year staff pay freeze.

Bethel Local Schools, which is in Miami County, has two levies on Tuesday’s ballot: A five-year, 2-mill permanent impovement renewal levy, and a five-year, 7-mill replacement levy for operations on the ballot.

The Bethel issues would raise a combined $1.2 million annually.

City issues

In addition to these districts, two local communities will have property tax levies on Tuesday’s ballot.

In Warren County, Franklin voters will decide on a new 3.5-mill levy that would change how residents receive emergency medical services. Franklin Fire Chief Jonathan Westendorf said the city is currently part of a joint ambulance district, but the new levy would put EMS services under the fire department.

Westendorf said if voters approve the 3.5-mill levy, the city will withdraw from the ambulance district, thus canceling a 1.8-mill levy that pays for that service. He said the net increase in cost would be $75 to $80 per year.

Also, Farmersville will ask voters to renew a five-year, 2.5-mill operating levy that generates $35,035 a year for the village’s general fund.

Staff writer Jeremy P. Kelley contributed to this report.

Husted bucks GOP, is against voter photo ID push

Published: Friday, April 08, 2011 @ 6:11 AM
Updated: Friday, April 08, 2011 @ 6:11 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The official who oversees Ohio's elections says he doesn't agree with a measure proposed by some fellow Republicans to require voters to show photo IDs at the polls.   

Secretary of State John Husted tells The Columbus Dispatch on Thursday that he would not change current policy that allows voters to prove their identities with photo IDs or other documents, such as utility bills or paychecks.   

A bill approved by the Ohio House would require voters to show the photo ID before casting an in-person ballot. It is now being reviewed by the Senate.   

Husted instead proposes changes for voters casting early ballots or provisional ballots. He says those voters should be required to give their full Social Security numbers instead of the currently required last four digits.

New restaurants, retail shops coming to Oxford

Published: Friday, October 28, 2016 @ 2:25 PM
Updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016 @ 4:37 PM

New restaurants and retail shops are coming to a development on the former Walmart site in Oxford.

Bishop Square — a 50,000-square-foot mixed use development at 419 Locust Street that currently includes 272 units of student housing — is adding Marco’s Pizza, Tim Hortons, a Sprint retail store and a bank.

“The final stage is important because we’ll be building the outlots that sit along Locust, which will serve as the front door to the whole project,” said Josh Rothstein, of Blue Ash-based OnSite Retail Group, which is handling marketing and leasing for the project. “The retailers and restaurants are excited to open their locations here because being across from Kroger, TJ Maxx and Dollar Tree provides tremendous exposure, great visibility and easy access to the shoppers already passing through this part of town.

“It’s also easily in walking distance to not only the concentration of Miami’s campus, but also the off-campus housing population,” Rothstein said.

Two other storefronts on the site are being are in the process of being leased, he said.

Existing Bishop Square tenants include Oxford Lane Library, Mercy Health - Orthopaedics and Sports Rehabilitation, Great Clips and Cloud 9 Vapor Lounge. A second-floor above some of those tenants includes office space.

Alan Kyger, Oxford’s economic development director, said the community is excited to see the Bishop Square project moving into its final phases.

“In 2005, when Walmart moved away from this site, the abandoned building that was left behind was a large eyesore for the Tollgate Business District, as well as for the whole community,” Kyger said. “Developer Robert Fiorita is to be commended in providing such a good-looking redevelopment project.

“The addition of these merchants will provide the citizens of Oxford additional shopping options. I expect each of these new businesses to be very successful in this new development.”

Marco’s Pizza has 700 stores in 35 states, doubling in size over the last five years and on track to 1,000 stores by the end of 2017, according to the company. Area locations include Middletown, Monroe, Hamilton and Liberty Twp. in Butler County.

Tim Hortons has more than 4,400 locations in the United States, Canada and the Middle East. Area locations include Monroe, Springboro and Maineville in Warren County.

Crash victim lived to fly, friend says

Published: Saturday, June 09, 2012 @ 8:16 AM
Updated: Saturday, June 09, 2012 @ 8:16 AM

A 73-year-old Bellbook man killed in a plane crash Saturday morning was an experienced pilot who had built four planes like the “experimental aircraft” he flew that day, according to his wife.

Roger Flower died in the 8 a.m. crash, said Sgt. Anthony Pearcy of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“Some witnesses in the area did see the plane flying and the witnesses believe they did see something fall off the plane,” he said.

Flying out of the Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport in Greene County, the plane flown by Flower crashed about 100 yards from a house at 1856 Ohio 380. Debris from the crash spread about 300 feet and the plane had extensive damage.

Flower was a naval aviator for 31 years who still loved to fly in his retirement, said Jan Flower, his wife of 50 years.

“It was his life, ” she said. “He was flying a plane that he had built and flew out of Greene County Airport and was there every day and loved it.”

After retiring from the Navy, he became a certified aviation engineer and began building his own aircraft, his wife said.

“He knew what he was doing about building it and just loved it and wasn’t ready to give up airplanes, so he built them,” she said.

Both natives of Ohio, Roger and Jan Flower have four sons and moved to Bellbrook eight years ago, when they were done traveling with the Navy.

She described her husband as “a leader, totally confident. (He) could tackle anything, could build or fix anything, loved his children and his grandchildren, (and) loved serving in his church.”

The OHSP is investigating the crash with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

The plane was a fixed wing, single engine, experimental/homemade aircraft, according to the patrol.

“According to the family members, it’s been flown before,” said Pearcy.

There was no flight plan filed for the plane and the destination of the flight was unknown, Pearcy said.

“As unfortunate as this incident is, it is fortunate that no other people were involved,” Pearcy said.

Arrest made in slaying of businessman

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 @ 7:44 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 @ 7:44 PM

Police have arrested a 20-year-old Dayton man in the slaying of a business owner found dead inside a burned out garage last week.

Anthony Lamar Stargell Jr. was arrested Wednesday morning and is in the Montgomery County Jail pending the filing of an unclassified felony murder charge.

Dayton Sgt. Dan Mauch said detectives believe Stargell shot and killed 54-year-old Tommy Nickles before setting a fire inside 838 S. Main St. on April 3.

“The fire did not do the damage that the perpetrator expected,” Mauch said Wednesday afternoon. He said evidence collected inside the business and from Nickles’ stolen work van helped lead detectives to Stargell. The van was recovered by police late April 3 in the 400 block of Leland Avenue.

A search warrant was executed at 2905 Oakridge Drive on Wednesday, where Stargell occasionally stays with family. He was taken into custody at about 11 a.m.

Nickles, of Kettering, died from multiple gunshot wounds and was found in a garage where he ran Quality One Electrical Service. A Golden retriever that had been shot to death also was found in the building, police said.

Nickles' family confirmed last week that he had been living in the building because of a recent divorce. They said they couldn’t fathom why someone would want to kill the father of two. 

“Tom was a good man, he was a good father,” said Gavin Whitt, Nickles’ godson.

Mauch said Stargell and Nickles knew each other. He said police are investigating robbery as a possible motive or that Nickles possibly owed Stargell money.

“It’s still an ongoing investigation,” he said. Police also are trying to locate several individuals who may have stolen property belonging to Nickles.

According to court records, Stargell was convicted of robbery in February 2011 and sentenced to five years’ probation.

His mother, Tonya Bailey, said her son recently got out of prison, but she doesn’t believe that he is responsible for Nickles’ death.

“I don’t think that he did do it, but if he did do it he didn’t do it by himself,” she said.

She said Stargell wasn’t on South Main Street on the night Nickles was killed. “He was here,” she said at her mother’s house on Wednesday.