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Village Schools

YS school board — District seeks levy renewal

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With a renewal levy on the Nov. 6 ballot, Yellow Springs school  district leaders want local voters to know that the measure, if approved, will not increase their tax bill.

“It’s just a renewal. We are not talking about any additional funds,” Superintendent Mario Basora said during the school board’s last regular meeting, Thursday, Oct. 12.

The five-year, 1.2-mill permanent improvement levy request would continue a measure originally introduced in 2008 and renewed in 2013. Permanent improvement funds go toward capital expenditures such as building repairs and major purchases.

The levy raises about $138,000 a year, according to the Greene County Auditor’s office. It costs district homeowners about $31 a year for each $100,000 appraised property value, or about $54 annually for a property appraised at $175,000.

Basora said that if the levy doesn’t pass, the district budget would take a significant hit.

“We would lose [$138,000] in maintenance money beginning January 1st,” he said.

“Next year we would have to pass another levy, a brand new levy,” which wouldn’t  take effect until January 2020, he added.

The new levy also wouldn’t be subject to state credits — a 10 percent rollback for nonbusiness properties and an additional 2.5 percent in owner-occupied credit — that the General Assembly has eliminated for new taxes passed after August 2013.

A new measure at the same request level, therefore would cost voters more, Basora said.

The superintendent also stressed that recent increases in local appraised property values do not affect the levy’s revenue.

The county adjusts the millage to match the approved revenue level. In this case, the effective millage has been adjusted down to 1.0096, to continue raising $138,000 annually, according to the auditor’s office.

It’s the same amount of money, board member Sylvia Ellison reiterated.

Nevertheless, the ballot will still list the original 1.2-mill figure.

Basora bemoaned the fact that the ballot will not reflect the current, lower effective millage.

“It’s hard enough to pass levies,” he said.

He added that it also has been hard to put together a levy committee on the heels of the contentious facilities levy campaign last spring. The district’s combined 4.7-mill/0.25 percent income tax request was soundly defeated in May.

“People are gun shy” about coming forward, Basora said. “They felt pretty strongly attacked trying to volunteer their time to support the schools.”

Recently appointed board member TJ Turner, who was co-chair of the facilities levy committee, affirmed that levy supporters might be reluctant to volunteer after observing the last committee’s experience.

Basora added that the small, newly formed committee will be sending out information to the community soon.

A letter from the board concerning the ballot measure appeared in last week’s News.

Board President Aida Merhemic invited community members interested in hosting or attending informational sessions to contact her.

What we currently pay

According to the most recent records of the county auditor’s office, the Yellow Springs school district currently collects 64.85 mills in voter-approved local property taxes, 47.5 of which are in the form of continuing operating levies, the oldest dating back to 1963 and the most recent to 1982.  A continuing levy does not expire. Bundled together (and including 4.5 mills of inside millage), these operating levies raise about $3 million each year of the district’s currently projected $9.6 million operating costs fior 2019.

The other 17.35 mills are collected through a variety of voter-approved levies that have eventual end dates, though, like the permanent improvement levy, they may be eligible for renewal.

The longest is a 27-year, $4.5 million 2.05-mill bond levy approved in 2000, which brings in about $285,000 a year. Bond levies allow districts to borrow a specified amount of money, to be paid back over a designated number of years, for construction purposes. The measure raised money for additions and renovations at both Mills Lawn and the high school/McKinney Middle school campuses.

The district also has two additional levies that are subject to possible renewal in seven years:

• A 10-year, 7.5-mill emergency operating levy, which was renewed in 2015 and raises $1,060,000 each year.

• A second emergency levy, originally adopted in 2012 at 7.4 mills, and renewed in 2017 for another eight years so its expiration would coincide with the first emergency levy in 2025, giving the district the opportunity to combine them in some manner in any renewal request. Currently adjusted to 6.6 mills, the levy raises about $915,000 each year.

Emergency levy revenues go toward operating expenses.

All told, homeowners pay about $1,300 annually per $100,000 appraised property value ($2,275 for a property appraised at $175,000), in addition to the 1 percent income tax paid by all district residents, according to the latest figures of the county auditor’s office.

Other business conducted during the board’s Oct. 11 meeting will be covered in next week’s News.

Contact: csimmons@ysnews.com

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