October 30, 2003


Issues debated, candidates presented at Men’s Group Candidate’s Night

About 50 local residents gathered in the Bryan Community Center meeting rooms last Thursday for the annual Candidate’s Night, sponsored by the Yellow Springs Men’s Group.

With just one competitive race, for Miami Township Board of Trustees, debate seemed undermined by lack of choice. Still, audience members didn’t seem to mind, and they asked engaging questions about the issues and the candidates that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The following is a summary of what was said.

State Issue 1

Voters will decide with Issue 1 whether to allow the state to issue $500 million in bonds for investment in technological research and economic development in Ohio over the next 10 years, Don Motley, a representative with the Ohio Department of Development, said during his presentation.

The proposal is part of Governor Bob Taft’s $1.6 billion “Third Frontier” project to stimulate Ohio’s flagging economy. The plan aims to increase high-paying jobs by investing in high-growth industries, including biosciences, information technology and fuel-cell research. If Issue 1 passes, the public investment should leverage $4.5 billion in federal and private funds for research and job creation, Motley said. The total gain for the state is anticipated to be $6 billion over 10 years, he said.

Audience questions focused on accountability and the state’s ability to repay the bonds. The public investment over 10 years is insignificant in relation to the income the proposal is expected to generate, Motley said. The impact on the state budget will be minimal even if the project is unsuccessful, and if it is successful, it would repay itself many times over, he said.

YSI Incorporated received a Third Frontier grant last winter to invest in a biotechnology research and development project that could create as many as 50 jobs in the area, local resident Richard Lapedes said.

Yellow Springs school levies

With Issues 11 and 12 the Yellow Springs school district is asking voters to renew and reduce an emergency levy and a permanent improvement levy for a total savings of $409,000 in property taxes over the next five years.

The three-year emergency levy would be reduced from 10.3 mills to 10.1 mills, and would bring in $1.06 million a year, or 17 percent of the district’s budget. Funds from the levy are used for salaries, utilities, instructional materials and operating costs, Superintendent Tony Armocida said during his presentation.

The five-year permanent improvement levy would be reduced from 2.2 mills to 1.2 mills. It would generate $69,000 a year for educational technology and school bus purchases.

Armocida said that the school board is committed to reducing taxes and “we’re committed to maintaining the quality of our schools.”

Local residents wanted to know how much the Yellow Springs school system spends per pupil and what percent of the taxes generated from recent property reappraisals would go to the schools. The school district, which has 692 students, spends $8,600 per student, Armocida said, which is down by $600 from last year.

The higher-than-expected 13 percent increase in reappraisal values generated an additional $200,000 for the schools, which offset a $140,000 loss in revenue when Vernay Laboratories shut down its largest plant on Dayton Street and a $40,000 reduction in state funding. The schools had a net gain of $20,000 from the reappraisal, Armocida said.

Greene Memorial levy

Greene Memorial Hospital is asking voters to approve a replacement levy that would reduce the current funding from 0.52 mills to 0.5 mills. The levy would generate $1.5 million a year for the next five years, GMH levy committee representative Dave Ferguson said.

The levy represents less than 2 percent of the hospital’s operating budget, which GMH would reinvest in upgrading and purchasing new medical equipment.

Greene County residents have supported this levy since 1951. With the steady increase in property values to offset a continuous rise in health care costs, the hospital has been able to decrease the levy’s millage, Ferguson said. Whereas when the levy was initiated a property valued at $100,000 would generate $3 a year for the hospital, the same property today would generate $15 a year.

S corporation tax issue

Regional income tax representative Jeff Crissman came to explain Issue 26, which Village Council placed on the ballot. Traditionally, S corporations have been taxed solely on the distributive shares of their owners. Crissman said that an S corporation was an “entity created by the federal government for federal tax purposes,” and that federal income tracking made it difficult to evaluate the impact of S corporation taxation on the community. The impact would not be large in Yellow Springs, but it could vary from zero to $10,000, he said.

Last year, the Ohio General Assembly passed a bill requiring municipalities to get voter approval to continue taxing out-of-state S corporations. Voting yes on Issue 26 would maintain the current taxation formula.

Lapedes and Council member George Pitstick, who own or work for S corporations, offered their own explanations to audience members, many of whom were obviously confused about this ballot issue. The federal government does not tax S corporation profits, only the income of company owners, Pitstick said.

An S corporation could be a small company or a multimillion dollar corporation that doesn’t pay federal taxes because its taxing responsibilities are passed on to its owners to pay as personal income taxes.

“S corporation owners are already privileged, and to discontinue to tax these businesses is incorrect,” Lapedes said. “We do want to continue to tax S corporation revenue.”

Yellow Springs mayor

Though everyone is better off having choices, Foubert said in a humorous presentation, he is “delighted” to be running unopposed for his seventh term as the mayor of Yellow Springs.

The mayor, who serves a two-year term, is the head of the Village for ceremonial purposes and presides over the Yellow Springs Mayor’s Court.

Foubert said that he has run Mayor’s Court for the last 12 years as a community court, where people can expect to be listened to when they come. The Yellow Springs Mayor’s Court involves mostly misdemeanors, ranging from fights to illegal liquor sales, he said.

Foubert said that the maximum sentence he has ever imposed is a $1,000 fine and six months in jail, and in his time in the mayor’s office he has only jailed three people. When handling traffic cases, he said, his goal is to help citizens get licensed, insured and informed so they can get back on the road.

One resident asked if the mayor could impose heavier fines for driving under the influence. The mayor can impose a fine of up to $1,000, which can easily be reduced to $350 on appeal, Foubert said. He said he prefers to offer appropriate sentencing and achieve better control of the court process.

Foubert said that he loves serving as the mayor of Yellow Springs. “I enjoy the community values and try to live by them in court,” he said. “It’s a joy to be your mayor, thank you for the opportunity.”

Miami Township trustee

Two candidates are running for one available seat on the Miami Township Board of Trustees: incumbent Chris Mucher and local resident David Heckler. The winner will receive a four-year term.

Heckler has had over 22 years of public service with the Clark County engineer’s office and with the Village, where he served as assistant manager and manager. In addition to his educational background in civil engineering and business administration, he said that his professional experience has given him familiarity with agricultural engineering, Village infrastructure and financial and personnel managerial skills.

As a Miami Township resident, Heckler said he has become more aware of township issues, which include, he said, foremost, maintaining Miami Township Fire-Rescue. If elected, Heckler said that he hopes to guide the completion of the Township’s comprehensive land use plan in order to pursue economic development and farmland preservation policies that accurately reflect the needs of local residents.

Heckler also said that he would make a point to meet farmers and encourage broad participation by remaining available to talk to concerned citizens.

Audience members questioned how candidates would balance property rights with other rights to protect the environment. Heckler said he would seek public input through hearings to build consensus on zoning issues to solve the issue.

Chris Mucher has served seven years as a Miami Township trustee and is running for his second full four-year term on the board. He said that he has “experience, expertise and results,” backed up by a cumulative record of $500,000 of vehicle acquisition, $4 million in road repairs, a history of volunteer recruitment from the township and many proposals that show planning for the future.

He proposed that the Township establish a farmland preservation fund, a comprehensive land use plan and the Cooperative Economic Development Agreement with the Village. As a small business owner, he said, he is available to the public every day at his local place of business to talk about township issues.

To balance personal property rights with environmental and other concerns, Mucher said that he relies on the five member Township Zoning Commission to determine which property rights supercede others.

In response to questions about access to information, Mucher said that he supports as much public input as possible. The public is invited to attend Township meetings, browse the Township’s Web site and approach any of the trustees with questions, he said.

Village Council

Three people are running for three seats on Village Council: Council members Mary Alexander and George Pitstick and local resident Jocelyn Hardman. The two candidates receiving the most votes will receive four-year terms, and the candidate with the third most votes will serve a two-year term.

Mary Alexander was appointed to fill a vacancy on Village Council in the spring after Hazel Latson resigned from Council. She and her husband, Bill Alexander, have lived in the village for 40 years and have raised four children here.

She said that she thinks the Village’s major concerns are population and economic growth and responsible management of assets.

As a Council member, Alexander said, she would promote Yellow Springs as an affordable place to live, noting that safety and the volunteer emergency services make the cost of living in town more valuable. Alexander said that she would support Community Resources, a local community improvement corporation, in its effort to build a commerce park in town.

Alexander said that the public school system is a positive draw for families, noting that she would work to increase enrollment.

In general, she said that Council is a “community custodian” that must listen to all perspectives in an impartial and fair atmosphere.

Noting that she ran in a more contentious race for Council two years ago, Jocelyn Hardman said that she is glad to be running again this year. Hardman, who was raised in the village, said that she hopes to encourage more participation among members of her generation who have returned to live in Yellow Springs.

Many of the issues Hardman intends to work on come from her association with the Men’s Group, whose cost of living report, she said, should shed some light on local affordability issues.

Hardman said that she plans to focus on attracting more residents to the village, encouraging clean businesses to establish themselves in town, improving the quality of existing housing and increasing the number and diversity of housing in Yellow Springs.

When asked if Council candidates would support a resolution to oppose the Patriot Act, Hardman said she supported the civil liberties of those who come to the U.S. seeking the freedom Americans have.

A road repair question prompted Hardman to say that good street maintenance leads to responsible fiscal management.

George Pitstick, who is running for his second consecutive term on Council, has lived in the village for over 40 years. He has also served on the Village Planning Commission and the Village Board of Zoning Appeals.

As the CFO of a water treatment plant company, Pitstick said that he has experience in financial management, which he intends to use to establish sound fiscal management of the Village’s budget. He said that he hopes to help the Village be proactive in attracting businesses to town. He also said that he would promote moderate housing growth, maintenance of Village infrastructure and a solid wellhead protection plan.

“I will strive for consensus, and I am willing to listen and actively seek out advise for consensus,” Pitstick said. “I’m committed to keeping Yellow Springs a place where we want and can afford to live.”

In response to the Patriot Act question, Pitstick said that though the legislation had overstepped its bounds, he supported a law that protected villagers from danger. Pitstick responded to the road repair question by saying that Council made a list of Village streets set for repair in the next 10 years. He also said that he favored an in-house road assessment.

Pitstick also responded to a question concerning the Caboose Bike & Skate on the bikepath, saying that Council wants to allow a rental business to operate within the bikepath’s right of way.

Yellow Springs school board

Two candidates are running for two seats on the Yellow Springs school board: incumbent Rich Bullock and local resident Richard Lapedes. School board members serve four-year terms.

Lapedes said that the Yellow Springs schools have been among the best in the area for delivering great value for the money. He said that he hopes to contribute to the effort to attract more families to town to sustain the schools. Lapedes said that he is interested in using public input to improve the board’s decision-making processes and hopes to reach out to people for their ideas and organize them in an appropriate manner.

Bullock was absent.

—Lauren Heaton