Ashland voters overwhelmingly moved to renew the Youth Activities and Academics Levy Tuesday, ensuring $3 million annually in funding for after-school sports, academic programs and library staffing until June 2016.

Ashland voters overwhelmingly moved to renew the Youth Activities and Academics Levy Tuesday, ensuring $3 million annually in funding for after-school sports, academic programs and library staffing until June 2016.

The levy passed with about 68 percent of the vote, with the county's preliminary report Tuesday night showing 4,343 votes in favor.

"What a generous community," said former Ashland High School Principal Jeff Schlecht, who co-chaired the levy elections committee. "Thank you, thank you. We have our priorities right."

Schlecht and about two dozen levy supporters gathered at Louie's Bar & Grill Tuesday night to celebrate the passage of Measure 15-102.

According to preliminary numbers, 2,090 voters — or 32 percent — voted against renewing the levy. Opponents of the levy said they felt they were already paying enough in taxes to support schools and didn't want to continue to be burdened by an additional expense.

The levy revenues make up about 13 percent of the district's general fund budget, so if the measure had failed, the district would have needed to make severe cuts, said Jill Turner, the district's business manager.

"It would have affected all staffing and operations," she said.

The bulk of the money is budgeted for middle and high school academic programs and extra-curricular activities, as well as district-wide guidance counseling services. Some of the money also goes to support district-wide library services and grounds maintenance, as well as elementary school programs, such as music and art lessons.

The ballot measure asked voters to renew the current levy, which expires in June 2011 and requires residential property owners within the district's boundaries to pay $1.29 for every $1,000 of the assessed value of their home annually. An owner of a home assessed at $200,000 pays about $258 per year under the levy.

The district has been supported by a voter-approved levy since 1994. A 2007 ballot measure to alter the levy, extending it throughout the district's boundaries and funneling the money into the general fund budget, passed with 65.7 percent of the vote.

Maylee Oddo, Measure 15-102 campaign manager, said she was elated to see voters on Tuesday had supported the measure by a higher percentage than in 2007, at least according to preliminary counts.

"This makes me proud to live in Ashland," she said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.