The above is a proposed plan for an aquatic center in Van Wert presented to city officials in December 2012. A proposed levy to fund the aquatic center that was to appear on the May ballot was rejected by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office due to errors. Mayor Don Farmer announced Friday that the errors in the ballot issue will be corrected and the issue will appear on the November ballot. (Courtesy of Brandstetter Carroll Inc.)
BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
VAN WERT - Plans to take a levy before Van Wert city voters for the construction of an aquatic center have not been abandoned, but they have been delayed.Van Wert Mayor Don Farmer told the media on Friday that although the ballot question was pulled off the May 7 ballot due to errors, the question will be corrected and brought back for a vote in November.
"Once all the language is corrected, it will come back before council in plenty of time so that the submission can be made to the state in plenty of time for the November ballot," he stated.
The Times Bulletin reported on Friday that the Ohio Secretary of State's Office had rejected the ballot initiative due to errors in the submission to the state.
City Law Director John Hatcher explained, "The ballot issue was rejected by the state for a couple of different reasons. In the 'pool fever' we had to get this around, we moved quickly and in the moving quickly there were mistakes made in the drafting of it. Those fall firmly at my feet."
One major problem was a lack of certificate of verification. Such a certificate is to be presented to the county auditor for a levy, but that was not done. The wording of the question was also in error. The phrase "current expenses" was used in the second paragraph of the resolution which prevents a levy to be more than five years in length.
"That should have been removed but never was," Hatcher admitted.
The wording should also have separated the need for a bond issue from the city's tax levy to pay for those bonds.
"Some of it was stuff that could have been remedied relatively easily, and some of it not... I will correct those problems," he stated.
Hatcher also expressed his confidence that the voters will get the chance to vote.
"I feel very confident that we have a good plan to move forward and have it ready for the ballot in November. Those mistakes will not be repeated, believe me," he vowed. "This is a learning experience for me... While there is a learning curve, but that doesn't justify [the mistakes]. Everyone who is disappointed and inconvenienced by what has occurred, they have my sincerest apologies. There were a lot of people who want this, myself included, and they have the right to be disappointed. The best way to remedy that is to fix the problem and move forward. That's what I'm going to do."
Although waiting until fall to go to the voters was not the first choice, Farmer noted that the timing will actually be an advantage for the facility. If the levy had passed on May 7, construction likely would not have been ready to begin until September which would have forced the building of the project to be extended into 2014. That schedule would have pushed the opening back to at least July, cutting the season in half. New grass probably would not have been ready by that time either. But Farmer noted many things will be simpler with a November approval rather than a May approval.
"When approved in November, we can do all of our head work in the winter months and be all ready when the weather breaks we would have no problem getting it seeded and done in that year, 2014, for an opening around Memorial Day of 2015," he said. "Sometimes the negative breeds a positive."
That would, of course, assume passage of the 1.2 mil tax levy, which is not guaranteed to carry city voters.
The levy would end up costing owners of a $100,000 home approximately $37 annually in taxes. The owner of a $50,000 home would pay around $18.50 each year.