Licking County News

Primary election roundup

Pataskala library officials go back to drawing board

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Pataskala Public Library director Jeff Rothweiler and the library’s board of trustees have much to discuss following another defeat of a five-year, 0.5-mill renewal levy and a 0.25-mill increase.

Local voters on March 6 turned down the levy request 2,370 votes, or 53.44 percent, to 2,065 votes, or 46.56 percent, according to unofficial results from the Licking County Board of Elections.

The same levy request was defeated Nov. 8 by a count of 3,880 votes to 3,692 votes.

The levy would have cost property owners $22.96 annually per $100,000 of assessed property valuation and generated $432,750 for the library.

“The effect on this year’s services will be minimal, but we will have to evaluate any cuts for this year and for 2013,” said Rothweiler.

He said the library will make another levy request in November, although the millage has yet to be discussed.

“There will be no layoffs this year, but we may not fill positions if employees leave,” said Rothweiler. “We are discussing what expenses can be cut this year to help the shortfall in 2013, but those decisions will not be made until our next board meeting.”

He said if the November attempt fails, cuts will need to be made in 2013, and he and the board of trustees will need to discuss the specific cuts moving forward.

Potential cuts include hours of operation, library materials, supplies and programs, Rothweiler said.

Election Day was kinder to two countywide issues on the ballot.

Licking Park District board chairman Stephen Holloway was all smiles after county voters approved a five-year, 0.25-mill levy 16,802 votes, or 53.46 percent, to 14,630 votes, or 46.54 percent, according to the county board of elections.

“There are some really exciting things we’re going to be doing,” he said.

A five-year, 0.2-mill levy was defeated in both May and November 2010, and the district had experienced many changes to its board, including expanding from three to five members, since then.

Immediately, Holloway said, the board’s goal is make all of the district’s facilities safe and restore all programs and events.

Because the district was experiencing financial challenges, Holloway said, the county’s 13 parks and 42 miles of trails fell into disrepair from lack of maintenance and all programs and events were canceled.

He said now the levy has passed, the district will implement its five-year plan, which includes crucial repairs to Black Hand Gorge facilities.

“Every year, we’ve got a big project,” Holloway said.

The levy is expected to generate $900,000 annually and costs $7.66 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities spokesperson Heather Odendahl said the best thing about approval of her organization’s five-year, 1-mill renewal levy is that nothing will change.

The levy was approved with 19,371, or 61.83 percent, votes in its favor, which allows the board to continue offering the same services.

“We’re trying to let the community know how much we appreciate it,” Odendahl said. “We’re thrilled to have it behind us. Lots of people were very supportive.”

The levy generates about $3.7 million each year. It costs about $30.63 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

Only a few candidate races were contested in the March 6 primary.

In the one contested county commissioner race, county Republican voters unseated incumbent Brad Feightner, favoring Hanover Mayor Duane Hayes Flowers.

Flowers captured 46.78 percent of the vote — 9,490 votes — to advance to the November election, where he will not face a partisan opponent.

Flowers said he is a rare commissioner candidate from east of Newark and state Route 13.

“The whole county is represented now,” he said.

Flowers said he sees Licking County as divided into three sections: east, west, and Newark. He said commissioner Doug Smith is from western Licking County, commissioner Tim Bubb — who was not challenged in the primary in his bid for re-election — is from Newark and Flowers will be on board to represent the east.

Flowers said one of his goals is to help the three sections cooperate for the county’s benefit.

“They’re not working together,” he said. “It would make it easier for all of us.”

Republican voters cast 8,642 votes, or 42.60 percent, for Feightner, while 2,156 votes, or 10.63 percent, were cast for the third candidate, Seth E. Ellington, according to unofficial results from the county board of elections.

The primary for the 12th U.S. Congressional District also featured two contested partisan races, although neither result was close.

Republican voters overwhelmingly chose incumbent U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Genoa Township) over challenger William Yarbrough of New Albany.

Tiberi collected 71,894 votes, or 77.87 percent, according to unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

Democratic voters propelled Jim Reese of Gahanna to a big win over Doug Litt of Mansfield.

Reese collected 14,194 votes, or 69.89 percent, according to the secretary of state’s office.

ThisWeek community editor Neil Thompson contributed to this story.

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