Last Tuesday’s election yielded mixed results in Poland, where, as across much of the Valley, voters largely accepted renewals, while most new issues went down in defeat. Three of the four issues before Poland voters passed, a success rate that did not go unnoticed amongst those who did the asking.
“I’m most encouraged by our results,” said Paul McFadden, chair of the Citizen’s Committee for Poland Schools. Rather than focusing on the defeat of the 4.9 mill additional emergency levy, he emphasized the success of the 3.9 mill renewal among a crowded field of issues. “We took a renewal that [had] lost by 900 votes and turned it around into one that won by 600,” he said.
Along with the school renewal, voters also approved a 2-mill renewal levy for Poland Township and a 1-mill additional levy for the Western Reserve Joint Fire District.
“We’re happy that it passed, and we’ll put it to good use,” said Jim Scharville, Poland Township administrator. He described levy renewals as the “lifeblood” of local government, and said that in an time of shrinking state funding, citizens understood the challenge. “We’re fortunate here. We’ve got to thank the people because they’ve always been supportive,” he said. “We have good people out in Poland Township.”
McFadden also expressed thanks and admitted that asking for Poland voters to pass two school levies at once, in addition to the fire and township levies, was “a bold request.”
“It would hard for anyone to criticize Poland Township for not supporting their community,” he said. According to McFadden, the renewal had been the committee’s first priority, and, like Scharville, he emphasized its importance. “If we had not passed that renewal, I think Poland, Ohio, would have been a changed place,” he said.
McFadden acknowledged the role that a still-soft economy played in the new levy’s defeat, but echoed Scharville’s theme of state budget cuts and what he called “the changing dichotomy of our public funding.”
“This levy could pass if we could properly express the facts and get the facts out, that this is not an increase in funding to the schools,” McFadden said. He asserted that the new levy would only have filled the gap created by cuts in state educational funds.
The cuts are just as weighty for the township to consider. “These are big chunks of money that we’re losing, and it has to be made up somewhere,” Scharville said. He cited current attempts to eliminate the estate taxes as an example of what townships, school districts and other local government entities are facing. More levies or personnel attrition are options if it becomes necessary in the future. “Until the economy gets better, we’ll have to make it like everybody else,” he said. Township employees have received no pay raises in an effort to keep costs down, he added.
Despite this, Scharville has a sanguine outlook. “It’s a good community to live in, and it will continue to be a good community.” He said that the best aspect of a township is that it’s the citizens, not the trustees, who vote to raise or lower taxes according to the level of services that they want. “Let the people decide,” he said. “That’s why it’s a democracy. That’s what makes it good.”
With the people having decided last Tuesday, the final meeting of the Citizen's Committee for Poland Schools will be held at 7 p.m. next Thursday, May 19 in the cafetorium of McKinley Elementary. McFadden said that the members of the committee will thank the citizens of Poland for approving the renewal, and present a financial summary and a breakdown, by precinct, of the election results. The public is invited to attend and discuss the results and future Poland Schools, he said.