Lebanon City Schools are seeking a 4-year, 4.99 mill levy in the May 7 election. Campaigns are already under way as people begin taking advantage of early voting. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

Look-alike campaign signs used in Lebanon school levy battle

Both sides chose maroon and white — school colors for the Lebanon Warriors — to sway voters.

The presence of look-alike, anti-levy signs didn’t surprise the leader of the school levy campaign.

“I think any time a school district asks for an increase in revenue that there will be residents opposed,” said Kim Sellers, campaign chair for Citizens for Quality Lebanon Schools. “I only ask that people seek facts before making a decision, don’t rely on rumor or misinformation you read on social media.”

RELATED: 7 area school districts seeking more levy money in May election

The issue would raise $5 million a year for the school district in each of the next four years and tack on about $175 for every $100,000 of property value assessed on tax bills.

In addition to the tax increase, the opposition signs point out May 7 is a special election.

Although there is no regular election, there are three other issues on ballots, including a rezoning referendum in Wayne Twp. The other two issues are in school districts, some of which lie in another county: a continuing 7.5-mill replacement levy in Bellbrook-Sugarcreek and 5-year, 0.5 percent income tax increase in Clinton-Massie.

RELATED: Lebanon board puts levy on May ballot

Cole Proeschel, a fourth-generation farmer with a 265-acre farm, said he opposed a property tax increase, because it was hardest on owners of larger properties, often farmers.

“If they would just stop asking for a property tax levy, if they would just ask for something more income-based, I’d be right on board,” Proeschel said Monday.

In response, Sellers said, “Taxpayers paid for their education, and now it’s our turn to make sure future farmers and generations are well educated.”

Proeschel suggested there wouldn’t be any future farmers in fast-growing Warren County.

The election is three weeks away, but voters have already begun casting their ballots at the Board of Elections office in Lebanon in early voting.

On Monday afternoon, 221 ballots had already been recorded, according to the Warren County Board of Elections.

None will be counted until election night.

RELATED: Lebanon school board takes first step toward May levy

The school district recently sent home a community update, including a message and letter from Superintendent Todd Yohey urging voters to support the levy and projecting the added cost for homeowners at 50 cents a day.

The school levy political action committee reported more than $31,261 in campaign funds heading into 2019, compared to $305 for Citizens for Responsible Spending, the anti-levy group.

Levy supporters point to 2011 as the last time voters were asked to approve new money for the district. In November 2011, the school levy passed by 1.2 percentage points, or 251 votes, according to the election records.

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