DELPHOS AREA - Local voters will see a light Primary Election on Tuesday.
Delphos Republicans will decide between two lifelong Delphos residents, Del Kemper and Greg Etgen, both of West Second Street, for the 3rd Ward seat on city council to be vacated by Jim Knebel.
Kemper is semi-retired from Statewide Ford in Van Wert and sells real estate. He said Delphos is in need of a solution to its budget problems.
“Our income tax collection is down and when this year’s budget was done, they had expected a 3-percent increase. That didn’t happen so they had to re-do the budget,” he said. “We have some tough choices ahead. We need to be fiscally responsible and ask others to do the same. We need to get a grip on what’s coming in and what’s going out.”
Kemper also said he sees money problems in the future.
“We have a water plant that is supposed to increase its collections by three percent each year. That is not happening but it has been budgeted,” he said. “In the next several years, council will be making some really hard decisions.
“I have been in management and reading financial statements most of my adult life and with this experience, I’ve had to keep a balanced budget. I know when times get especially tough, variable expenses are scrutinized and a large portion of variable expenses is manpower. I don’t want to see anyone lose their job and I don’t know what other expenses could be cut. I’m on the outside looking in right now. I don’t see a lot of fat out here or easy answers.”
Kemper and his wife, Scarlett, have three grown children and six grandchildren. They attend St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
Etgen is currently employed with the City of Van Wert and says his experience working in a municipality will be invaluable on council.
“I have a background in construction, water line repair and snow removal and I know how a city runs,” Etgen said. “I have thought about running for a while and the time was never right. When I heard Mr. Knebel wasn’t running, this time it was right.”
Etgen said he knows the budget is not in good shape.
“We aren’t going to be able to spend a lot of money so we need to take care of what we have and make good, logical decisions with the citizenry in mind.”
Etgen and his wife, Joelyn, have four children: one is grown, two attend the University of Toledo and the youngest is a freshman at St. John’s High School.
Voters will also decide if Spencerville native Andrew Daley or Kalida native Andrew Knueve will appear on Nov. 5 General Election ballot for the open 1st Ward seat on Delphos City Council. Both men have moved their families to Delphos and would like to become active in decisions affecting their new home.
“City government is the closest to the people,” Daley said. “This is where my family works and my children will grow up and go to school. I want to provide my children with a hometown that is growing.”
Daley would like to start with the city’s budget.
“We need to get the budget where it needs to be,” he began. “We need responsible leadership to promote growth and work with all groups to see what we can do here.”
Daley said he is impressed with the parks system and would like to see it continue to be self-sustaining.
“We also need to take a look at the conditions of our roads,” he added.
Daley and his wife, Andrea (Wrasman), reside on East Fourth Street. He is a Spencerville High School and Rhodes State College graduate and works at Unverferths in Delphos.
Knueve also agrees the budget is a top priority.
“The budget is a huge concern,” he said. “The last time Mr. Jettinghoff gave numbers we didn’t have a budget at a place I’m comfortable with and I’m sure council isn’t comfortable, either.”
Knueve, an associate lawyer with Huffman, Kelley, Brock & Gottschalk, LLC. in Lima, said he has the time to devote to the position, if not the experience.
“I have the time to give this the full effort it deserves and requires and what I lack in experience, I hope my legal background will make up for,” he added.
Knueve and his wife, Amanda (Recker), live on Wildwood Circle and attend St. John’s Church.
A renewal of the Delphos Public Library’s 0.6-mill levy, which was first approved in 1978, will also be decided upon.
The levy, which has provided the library $49,000 a year since the last renewal, comprises 13-percent of the library’s annual budget.
“This levy is important because it allows us to continue to offer services the community has come to value and use,” Director Kelly Rist said. “We need this because of all the budget cuts from the state. If it doesn’t pass, we’ll have to look at the budget some more and look at some things to cut.”
Elida Local Schools will make a request for new money, its second request in the last year.
This time Elida hopes voters will pass a 5.95-mill property tax levy, which would provide some financial stability for the next five years, generating $2.1 million annually. After the failure of November’s levy, the school board approved a $465,569 reduction plan that will still go into effect regardless of whether or not Tuesday’s attempt succeeds.
If it fails, more reductions will be made. District officials are stumped as to where those reductions will come from.
“It’s an impossible task to say what’s next, because anything less than what we have now will be devastating to our district,” Superintendent Don Diglia said.
Elida has cut 43 staff positions over the last 10 years and is currently at just 14 teachers above the minimum to meet state standards. Further cuts could include letting go of a building coach at the elementary, a science teacher, language arts teacher and foreign language teacher at the high school, a foreign language teacher at the middle school and a return to half-day kindergarten.
Diglia says cuts could be made to extracurriculars and other course offerings but doing so would result in a less thorough education and would make Elida’s students less competitive in college.
Elida will also ask for a renewal of its one-mill permanent improvement levy. This is a renewal and does not increase district residents’ taxes.
Apollo Career Center has an item on the ballot Tuesday with a bond issue for enlarging, improving and rebuilding structures, including the maintenance of classroom facilities, at a rate not exceeding 0.19 mill for each one dollar of valuation. The levy will cost $2.56 per month per $100,000 assessed home value and, if passed, Apollo will receive $23 million in matching funds from the state of Ohio.
The income will be used to improve, expand and renovate buildings and facilities to acquire career-technical equipment and upgrade the school site to meet the needs of 21st century learning. The current Apollo Career Center is 36 years-old and has plumbing, heating and electrical issues. In recent years space and technology upgrades have also become critical to the career center. Ohio School Facilities Commission funds have now been made available and the administration believes this is the time to take advantage of this opportunity.
Apollo plans to keep all current structures and renovate the buildings, also adding to the house programs. The project will include renovating the high school, Adult Education and Automotive Building, and conversions in adult programming, Public Safety, HVAC and Motorcycle and Law Enforcement.
A .75-mill replacement levy for Johnny Appleseed Metropolitan Park District (JAMPD) is on the ballot, which is the only levy the Park District has and represents the primary source of funding for all operations.
Park District Director Kevin L. Haver said the West Central Ohio Board of Realtors reported the average home value in Allen County is $105,900. For an average home, the .75-mil replacement levy will cost $24.32 per year, or approximately seven cents per day.
Residential property values decreased by six percent last year and it is estimated the parks will lose an additional $127,000 due to delinquent property taxes because of the drop.
The .75-mill levy was first approved by the citizens of Allen County in 1993. It is estimated the district this year will collect $156,000 less than it received in 2011.
According to Haver, the levy will secure the finances needed to operate an efficient and stable park system from 2014 through 2023, with no new millage. Fixed costs such as maintenance, staffing, insurance, educational services and safety/law enforcement are included, as well as capital improvements. Local monies are also needed to apply for outside grants.
The replacement levy represents 80 percent of the Park District’s entire operating and capital improvements budget. ?