Issue 2: Imagination Station Seeks a Replacement Levy

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

Imagination Station has a small request of the voters in Lucas County, a small request indeed. The science learning center is asking voters to replace a .17 mil property tax levy with a .1975 tax levy, the smallest request on this year’s ballot. For the owner of a house valued at $100,000, this means that he or she will be paying $6.91 to support a learning experience that impacts thousands of families.

That is $6.91 per year. An increase of one dollar per year for such a homeowner, an increase that will help to enable Imagination Station to continue to entertain, teach and delight its 200,000 visitors a year.

The .17 mil tax was initially sought and passed by voters in 2008 with the intent of raising $1.5 million for the science center, says Executive Director Lori Hauser, who has been with Imagination Station (originally COSI) for almost 20 years.

That original levy fell far short of expectations as it came at a time when the Great Recession was taking hold and home values were plummeting. It has never generated the income it was expected to in the years since, says Hauser. Generally, the center sees about $1.1 to $1.2 million a year from the levy.

“We are asking to get back to that dollar figure that was approved in 2008,” says Hauser.

Those levy monies are used to fund the cost of exhibits, maintenance of exhibits, traveling exhibits and building operations.

The funds brought in from the property tax are only a fraction of the total cost of upkeep for Imagination Station. The annual budget is around $4 million and is a result of a public/private partnership, says Hauser. The staff actively reaches out for private funding for the non-profit. “We want to make sure we keep it balanced,” says Hauser.

The science center also charges for admission to help with costs. However, increased public funding will help keep admission prices at a minimum and allow Imagination Station to continue to admit Lucas County children on Saturdays without charge.

As a result of private fundraising, for example, the science center expanded its facility during the pandemic and built a movie theatre that shows visitors of all ages 3D films such as “Hidden Pacific” about underwater life and “Superpower Dogs,” about animals trained to help in all kinds of crisis situations.

“We are making sure we are servicing the community,” says Hauser.