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Levy Proposal Brings Lively Crowd To Voters Forum

Voters in the Columbus school district will decide in three weeks whether to support a proposed tax levy and bond issue and hire an independent auditor. At a League of Women Voters forum last night in Clintonville, backers and opponents of issues 50 and 51 outlined their positions. In front of an overflow crowd of more than 150 at the Whetstone Library, Columbus Education Association president Rhonda Johnson said without the passage of issue 50 and 51, the Columbus schools will begin to be dismantled. Levy opponent Jonathan Beard called the proposal and related reform package an "invented crisis." If approved by voters the 9.01 mill property tax would add $315 annually for every $100,000 in valuation. Johnson says she thinks the levy has a 50-50 chance. "I think it's going to be a heavy lift and it's probably about even," says Johnson. Jonathan Beard says proponents of the Columbus levy "gambled" by placing the issue before voters even before a state investigation into alleged data and grade manipulation is finished. He says a high voter turn-out would help defeat the levy. "I think that it's going to be about turn-out. I think the question is going to be whether property owners who can't afford a 24 percent school tax increase turn-out and vote," Beard says. Early voting is taking place now. Election day is November 5.