Three of four Grove City Council candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot oppose spending taxpayer dollars in support of South-Western City Schools levies.

Three of four Grove City Council candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot oppose spending taxpayer dollars in support of South-Western City Schools levies.

"I do not think it is wise to spend city tax dollars to promote a school system not operated by the city and not under the city's control," said at-large candidate Steve Bennett. "I do, however, think that the city should endorse and support the efforts of the schools in other ways."

He said Grove City residents make up a small portion of the school district, but support is necessary.

"A community that is perceived of not supporting its schools will have difficult times attracting and keeping its people," he said. "I am an advocate and supporter of our schools."

Bennett said he feels state government officials have "shirked" their responsibilities in funding schools.

"It's sad that the people we elect to represent us seem to find other more important things to do," he added.

Warren Gard, at-large candidate, follows a similar philosophy.

"I believe that elected officials have the right to individually endorse, volunteer to campaign and make a personal contribution," he said. "I do not support the concept of using public funds on any levy, and I find it somewhat distressing that our mayor and councilman Gregory Grinch have made inflammatory remarks that have further divided this community.

"Attack comments won't work. We need to stay positive and let the healing begin," Gard added.

Michael Uhrin, Ward 3 candidate and current at-large councilman, said he "never supported" Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage's effort to give taxpayer dollars to the Aug. 4 levy campaign.

"I do support the city communicating to our residents through its own informational efforts that focus on the impact a failed levy will have on our city," he said.

"I continue to be adamant that any public information effort that the city provides to the community be factual and independent of any political campaign or agenda."

Uhrin said he has donated his own money to pro-levy campaign group Citizens for South-Western City Schools.

"What an elected official does with his personal life -- supporting or not supporting a levy -- is of his or her own accord," he said. "I take my job as a steward of public funds very seriously and creating a precedent of giving tax dollars to political efforts, campaigns and or levies is a dangerous road to go down."

Melissa Albright, Ward 3 candidate, said spending taxpayer dollars on school levy campaigns is a tricky issue.

Nonetheless, "It is legal under certain circumstances to do so," she said.

"When this is done because it is an effort to save countless jobs and the expense is outweighed by the benefit to be gained in income tax generated for the city, then I think it is fair to do so." She said she believes South-Western schools are of "vital importance" to Grove City.

"Anyone should be able to campaign for the levy freely and on their own time, no matter what organization they work for," Albright said.

"I do feel this should be done on personal time -- not donated company time when you work for a public entity."