Levy opposition group slings mud at mayor

A school levy opposition group accused Grove City leaders of overstepping their bounds in their support of Issue 81.

At the Oct. 20 Grove City council meeting, Terry Jones, representing South-West Alternative to Taxes (SWAT), said this issue is a struggle the city should have stayed out of.

Earlier in October, council members unanimously approved a resolution in support of the 9.69 combined bond issue and tax levy that the South-Western City School District will have on the November ballot. The issue would allow the district to replace and upgrade all school facilities. It would also permit the district to continue its current educational services.

Jones said SWAT represents angry voters. They believe, in the current economic crisis, this is not the time for the city to step in and encourage its residents to vote in favor of Issue 81.

District residents who own a $100,000 home would pay an additional $300 a year, or $25 per month, on their property taxes if the issue passes. The owner of a $150,000 would pay $450 annually or $38 a month.

According to Jones, Grove City Mayor Ike Stage had made a comment at a recent board of education meeting that it’s "only $25 a month." The opposition group says that money could be used to pay for groceries, medical bills or gas. Jones said this comment from the mayor proves that Stage has "no concern" for low income residents or those on a fixed income.

"The Grove City mayor is willing to hand out tax abatements to businesses, but there is no relief for low income residents," said Jones.

His personal attack on Stage alleged, "Stage is a conceited well-to-do businessman. He should be sent back to his country club friends."

Stage said he would not comment on the situation, but said Jones and members of SWAT should know more about him before making such personal attacks on his character.

Council President Ted Berry said that council understands that the economy is bad, but noted that it is important to invest in the community and in the future.

"Good schools are the key to economic development," said Berry.

In other news

•Council approved an ordinance to appropriate $178,000 from the street maintenance fund for road salt.

According to the city, the cost of road salt has significantly increased, while the supply has decreased for the 2008/09 season. The city has purchased the same amount of salt as they bought last season, which should last through the winter.

This year, they are paying three times what was paid last year. Council members said they are hoping the cost of salt will decrease for next winter.

•Council passed a measure to set aside $150,000 for renovations at City Hall.

Improvements at City Hall have been occurring by floor. This round of renovations will address the main level, which includes council chambers, the building division and the parks and recreation department.

The money for this project was appropriated through the 2009 capital improvement plan. Renovations include new carpet, painting and woodwork.

Stage said the current council chamber room is about 20 years old.

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