TALLMADGE — There will be a levy in November, but for how much and how long remain to be seen.
That was the general, informal agreement at Wednesday’s Tallmadge Board of Education meeting. Members decided to wait until June to take the first step in placing a levy on the ballot.
"We are going to be out there in the fall, I think we have a consensus on that," said board President Rick Kellar. The other board members nodded, and a couple said "yes." Kellar added he would like to go out to the community to gauge their opinions and get their feedback, then approve the first step of getting the levy on the ballot in June.
Treasurer Jeff Hostetler said the deadline to get everything to the Board of Elections office is early August.
The first step involves asking the county’s fiscal office to calculate the millage needed to raise the amount the school district wants to receive, Hostetler said. The second step, which would tentatively be voted on in July, would send the Summit County Board of Elections office the legislation to place the levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"I’d appreciate some time to reflect on this," Kellar said.
Hostetler said if new money is not generated for the Tallmadge schools, the district would find itself in a $936,378 hole by fiscal year 2020; schools are not allowed to operate in the red. He said reductions and caps in state funding force districts to rely heavily on local property taxes.
For example, HB 920, legislation passed in 1976 to rein in skyrocketing property values, does not allow schools to collect additional funding from new developments or reappraisals under its current voted millage, Hostetler said. The district has about a voting rate of 60 mills, but the effective millage the district has is nearly half that.
"The difference is 28 mills," Hostetler said. "That’s about $2 million. Because of HB 920, we are capped as to what we can get through real estate taxes. When the property taxes go up, our millage goes down. It’s a quandary all Ohio districts are faced with."
Another issue facing schools was the phase-out of the Tangible Property Tax, Hostetler said. Initially, the state had reimbursed the loss of revenue for the phaseout, but eventually started phasing out the reimbursements as well. This will be the final year the Tallmadge schools will see revenue from that tax, in the amount of $231,293.
Another issue is charter schools and "the way they suck the money out of the schools," Hostetler said.
Superintendent Jeff Ferguson said when a student leaves the Tallmadge school, the district loses that funding.
"The vast majority of them (charter schools) are performing miserably," Ferguson said.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or ??@AprilKHelms_RPC??