2018 Election results: strong showing against school levy
- Published: May 17, 2018
Villagers strongly expressed their opposition to a school district plan to fund a rebuilt/renovated Yellow Springs High School/McKinney School on Tuesday, May 8. “No” voters prevailed by a wide margin against a combined property tax/income tax levy that would have raised $18.5 million for the project.
Yellow Springers showed up for the primary election, with turn-out overall in Yellow Springs at about 53 percent, compared to 22 percent turnout county-wide. In the village, some precincts, such as 440 in the northern part of the village, saw 60 percent turn-out.
Yellow Springs is known as a village that supports its schools. The vote was only the third time in Yellow Springs history that a levy for Yellow Springs schools was defeated, and was the biggest levy defeat, according to the News archives. Previous defeats came in 1990 and before that, 1965.
The levy went down in the school district with a vote in which 64.2 percent of voters, or 1,309, cast a “no” vote, and 730 villagers, or about 35.8 percent, voted “yes.” In the village, the gap between those who supported and those who opposed the levy was widest in Precincts 440 and 441, the northern and western older parts of town, with about 70 percent of voters casting a “no” vote. The gap narrowed in the southern precinct, 443, which includes many newer and more expensive homes. In that precinct, the vote was about 47 percent for the levy and 52 percent opposed.
The levy discussion, which over the last year became increasingly contentious, was framed by growing community concerns regarding affordability, sparked by increasing living costs in the village. The levy rejected by voters included two new taxes, a 37-year, 4.7-mill bond issue and an 0.25 percent income tax increase. For the owner of an average-priced Yellow Springs home who made a median wage, the levy would have cost about $445 a year.
The vote came at the end of a year-and-a-half-long effort by the local school district to raise funding to improve school facilities. While the May 8 levy was substantially less than an initial option presented by school leaders of a $32 million combined K-12 facility, leaders had indicated they would address needed improvements to Mills Lawn School at a later date.
In an email statement in response to a request from the News on Tuesday night, School District Superintendent Mario Basora wrote:
“I want to thank the Yellow Springs Schools community for coming out and voting on this important levy. We are grateful for all of the volunteers who gave countless hours to help organize the campaign effort. Their hard work making phone calls, going door to door, distributing yard signs, hosting discussions in their homes and writing letters in the media was critical to getting information out to voters.
“I also want to thanks the leaders of the campaign, TJ Turner, Matt Grushon and Jalana Lazar, for their hard work and dedication through a long campaign process.
“Numerous individual and business donors contributed to the campaign and we are thankful for their contributions.
“Despite our best efforts, the school levy failed to garner enough support from our community. This is a disappointing loss for our students. Our School board and administrative team will need to take some time over the next few weeks to reflect and consider our options moving forward. Thanks again to the community for voting and taking the time to engage in this important issue.”
Third levy loss in village history
This levy defeat was only the third time in local history that a school levy has been voted down, and this levy lost by the widest margin.
Most recently, in 1990 voters rejected the 1 percent income tax for schools, which went down by a 60-40 margin, according to News archives. That tax eventually passed in 2001.
The only other levy that failed locally was in 1965, when voters rejected a 10-mill property tax levy by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent of voters. Then over the next decade, several smaller levies were passed until 10 mills were approved.
The vote against the levy was strongest in the historic northern and western sections of town and in Miami Township just outside of Yellow Springs. Levy support was strongest in the newer, southern part of town.
Here are the voting breakdowns per precinct from the unofficial results compiled by the Greene County Board of Elections. Precinct 440 is the northern segment of the village, 441 the western section, and 442 is the historic center of town. Precinct 443 is the southern, newer section of town.
Precinct 440: for the levy, 155 votes, or 29.3 percent, out of 885 registered voters; against, 374 votes, or 70 percent.
Precinct 441: for the levy, 109 votes, or 30.7 percent, out of 746 voters; against, 246 votes, or 69.3 percent.
Precinct 442: for the levy, 144 votes, or 37.4 percent, out of 879 voters; against, 241 votes, or 62.6 percent.
Precinct 443: for the levy, 220 votes, or 47.6 percent, out of 789 voters; against, 242 votes, or 52.38 percent.
Precinct 455 (Miami Township): for the levy, 7 votes, or 24.1 percent (out of 48 registered voters); against, 22 votes, or 75.8 percent.
Precinct 456 (Miami Township); for the levy, 93 votes, or 34 percent, out of 517 registered voters; against, 180 votes, or 65.9 percent.