Graham Local Schools, Historical Society levies fail

Staff report

With all local ballots counted, voters failed two proposed new levies in Tuesday’s election.

Graham Local Schools sought passage of a 1 percent earned income tax to be approved for operational purposes. Non-wage income such as that derived from pensions, investments and lottery winnings are exempt from taxation under an earned income tax. According to results from the board of elections Tuesday night, the levy failed by a percentage of roughly 60-40. The school district had spent months mounting a multi-faceted public relations campaign to inform residents in the district of the looming financial crisis. New money for school district operations hasn’t been approved by Graham voters since 1992. That levy was allowed to expire in 2004 as the district successfully sought passage of a bond issue to construct a new centralized elementary school and upgrade the aging high school in the mid-2000s.

“We want to make it very clear that we want to thank all of the volunteers and the community partners who helped to support the levy campaign and who worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to try to promote our need,” said Graham Superintendent Kirk Koennecke. “I would say that our need does not go away with this result. The board of education and the leadership of the district (will) take some time to digest the results and reflect and review before we discuss any next steps.”

The Champaign County Historical Society was also making its second attempt at passing the first-ever tax levy to help fund the facility. Volunteers currently staff and run the East Lawn Avenue museum and coordinate the Oktoberfest fund-raiser each year, but board members of the historical society were seeking enough taxpayer support to hire professional staff. The levy failed by a percentage of approximately 52-48.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Dan Walter of the Historical Society. “We worked harder than the last time to get our message out to the voters and we felt that we had done that but we just came up a little short. We’ll continue to do our best to tell the story of Champaign County and preserve the county artifacts with the volunteer staff that we have.”

Voters were also asked to decide once and for all on a 9.75-mill Urbana City School district operating levy, which was filed as continuous and would not be voted on again if passed. Voters approved the levy by a percentage of 58-42.

It joins two other levies on the books for Urbana that are continuous, one of which is for operations and the other for permanent improvements. A fourth levy expires in December 2020.

The Northeast Champaign County Fire District 1-mill replacement levy was approved by a percentage landslide of 70-30.

A 5.25-mill levy in Adams Township to build facilities to house trucks and equipment was approved by a 73-27 percentage.

In Ohio, voters approved Issue 1 by a wide margin, expanding crime victims’ rights. Issue 2, which claimed it would cap state agency prescription drug costs, failed by an equally wide margin.

Staff report