Issues 50 & 51: Opponents & Supporters Square Off - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Issues 50 & 51: Opponents & Supporters Square Off

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Opponents of Issues 50 and 51 organized a rally at Champion Middle School Wednesday in order to speak out against what they say is an unnecessary increase in taxes for Columbus residents. However, supporters say the issues are critical to ensuring a strong education for Columbus children going forward.

According to supporters, Issue 50 would break down to $315 in additional taxes for the owner of a $100,000 home.

Pastor Dale Snyder is with Citizens Against Issues 50 & 51. Snyder says even the smallest increase in taxes will have an extreme impact on the elderly and the poor in lower income parts of the city. Snyder criticized the district for failing to properly manage the money it already has.

"The problem we have in the Columbus school system is not a financial problem. The problem we have is mismanagement of the resources and the funds that we have elected them to do. So we're encouraging everyone to vote no on 50 and 51. Do the math," Snyder said.

Columbus City School District spokesperson Jeff Warner said that the district has worked very hard to be responsible with its budget. Warner pointed out that the district made $20 million in cuts for the 2013-2014 school year, including cutting 103 positions.

According to the district, Issue 50 would raise $515 million over five years. It is a combination of a levy and bond. Warner said $175 million of the $515 million is allocated for a bond issue and will be used for new facilities and renovations.

The district has previously constructed or renovated 42 schools according to Warner. If Issue 50 passes the money would be used to construct 10 new schools. Warner said the district is making an effort to slowly replace and renovate all of the older buildings before they severely deteriorate.

Additional money would be used for "warm, safe and dry" projects and maintenance of other schools.

Issue 51 would create an independent auditor for the district. Something critics say is necessary after the attendance scandal that rocked the district. Money from Issue 50 would be used to pay for expenses for the new auditor position according to the ballot language.

Josh Burton is with the group Vote For 50 & 51. He says opponents do not represent the majority of the community.

"You have three or four local pastors that were represented today of very small congregations. Whereas our campaign put out a press release today about 15 urban congregations that represent thousands of parishioners in the Columbus City School District. And we've got just tons of support," Burton said.

Voters will decide the issues on November 5.

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