The presidential race may be at the top of the ballot, but Upper Arlington voters will decide the fate of two local issues Nov. 6 that could have far-reaching effects for the city and its schools.
Issue 24 seeks permission for weekday and Sunday sales of alcohol in a 39-acre commercial stretch of Lane Avenue. If it is rejected, 11 businesses in the area that already have liquor licenses will lose them.
Issue 24's passage would allow new businesses going into the Lane Avenue community entertainment district to have liquor; that includes a 26,000-square-foot space site which formerly housed the Lane Avenue Baptist Church, plus several residential properties that have been earmarked for redevelopment that is supposed to include restaurants with bars. It also includes the proposed site of a J. Liu restaurant and bar.
Although city officials and current liquor license-holders in the CED are reviewing options to see if they could receive one-year stays from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control or court orders to allow them to continue to serve wine, beer and liquor if Issue 24 fails, it's unclear if those strategies are lawful.
If the issue fails, the immediate impact would be that the Lane Avenue CED would go "dry," and no businesses within the designated corridor could sell alcohol.
Issue 51 is a request from the Upper Arlington school district for a 5.8-mill operating levy that, if approved, would generate about $9.2 million annually, according to information from the district.
It has also generated considerable debate in the community between the pro-levy Citizens for Upper Arlington Schools and the anti-levy group, Educate UA.
Supporters note that district officials managed their funds well enough to stretch a levy approved in 2007 past its expected three-year life. Treasurer Andy Geistfeld said the district has lost $2.6 million in state funding so far and he projects an additional loss of $1 million in state funds "in the near future."
District officials have said the levy, if approved, would cost an additional $178 in annual taxes per each $100,000 in property value.
Educate UA members say presenting the cost of the levy in that way is misleading because the average home price in Upper Arlington is closer to $300,000, meaning property owners would pay more than $500 in additional taxes each year if Issue 51 is approved.
The Educate UA campaign has focused on the district budget, which members say is too heavily weighted toward high salaries and benefits for administrators and teachers. In addition, Educate UA supporters have said the district's per-pupil costs are significantly higher than other central Ohio districts that have also achieved "excellent with distinction" ratings on the state report card.
Voters will also decide the fate of State Issue 1, asking whether there should be a convention to revise the Ohio Constitution; State Issue 2, seeking to created a state-funded commission to draw legislative and congressional districts; and Issue 56, a Franklin County Office on Aging tax levy replacement and increase totaling 1.3 mills in support of senior services.
In addition to these local issues, Upper Arlington residents will choose among candidates for the following:
* U.S. Senate: incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown or Republican Josh Mandel, currently Ohio treasurer.
* 3rd Congressional District: Democrat Joyce Beatty, Republican Chris Long, Green Party candidate Bob Fitrakis or Libertarian Party candidate Richard Ehrbar.
* 15th Congressional District: Democrat Pat Lang or incumbent Republican Steve Stivers.
* 22nd Ohio House: Democrat incumbent John Patrick Carney or Republican Andy Hall.
* 24th Ohio House: Democrat Maureen Ready or Republican Stephanie Kunze.
* Franklin County Commissioner: incumbent Democrat Paula Brooks or Republican James M. Pfaff.
* Franklin County Sheriff: incumbent Democrat Zach Scott or Republican Mike Herrell.
* Franklin County Recorder: Democrat Terry L. Brown or incumbent Republican Daphne Hawk.
* Franklin County Treasurer: incumbent Democrat Edward Leonard or Republican Julie Hubler.