Cuyahoga Falls, Woodridge school districts seek renewal of levies

Both tax issues will expire at end of year if they are not passed Nov. 3

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Cuyahoga Falls voters are deciding renewal levies for both the Cuyahoga Falls City School District and Woodridge Local Schools.

CUYAHOGA FALLS — Voters in both the Cuyahoga Falls and Woodridge school districts will get to weigh in on levy renewal requests on Nov. 3. Neither, if approved, would result in an increase in taxes.

The Cuyahoga Falls City School District is seeking the renewal of a 7.9-mill levy for the next five years for operating expenses. This request appears on the ballot as Issue 36. The tax issue generates $5.7 million annually, which is about 10% of the district's general fund operating budget, according to Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols. The levy costs $222 annually per $100,000 property valuation.

"It would be devastating if we were not to be successful," Nichols told City Council about the levy Oct. 5.

The Woodridge Local School District is seeking the renewal of a 2.09-mill levy for 10 years for operating expenses. This request appears on the ballot as Issue 43. The levy is the smallest one that the district has on its books and generates a little more than $1 million per year, said District Treasurer Tom Morehouse. The levy costs $64 per year per $100,000 property valuation.

"The levy is very important to us," said Morehouse.

Cuyahoga Falls City Council on Oct. 12 unanimously approved resolutions supporting both levies.

Cuyahoga Falls City Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols.

More details on Cuyahoga Falls levy

Noting that the 7.9-mill levy is the second-largest levy the Cuyahoga Falls City School District has on its books, Nichols said it was "crucial" for the levy to pass next month.

The levy was originally passed in 2005, and renewed in both 2009 and 2014. Collection on the levy ends on Dec. 31, so the tax issue would have to pass on Nov. 3 to ensure the uninterrupted collection of funds, according to Nichols.

If the levy is not passed Nov. 3, the district would puts the issue back on a future ballot, Nichols said.

"Due to the immediate loss of revenue, the district would likely have to come back with an issue of higher millage," said Nichols.

If the levy does not pass on Nov. 3, the district would lose $2.85 million in the current school year and would have to make budget reductions, Nichols said.

"If we were not successful in passing new money thereafter, the district would lose $5.7 million in FY22, July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, and every subsequent year until a new money issue is passed," said Nichols.

Woodridge Local School District Superintendent Walter Davis speaks during a special board of education meeting in August. The district is seeking renewal of a 2.09-mill levy for 10 years for operating expenses on Nov. 3.

Woodridge Local Schools seek levy renewal

Woodridge's levy was first passed in 1992.

Collection on the levy ends on Dec. 31, so the tax issue would also have to pass on Nov. 3 to ensure the uninterrupted collection of funds,

In a joint statement, Morehouse and District Superintendent Walter Davis said if the levy fails, "we would likely not eliminate positions or make staffing reductions this school year," but added the district would start planning for the 2021-22 school year.

"Depending on the decisions made, anywhere between 10 to 15 positions would likely be reduced if the levy fails," Davis and Morehouse wrote in their statement. "It is impossible to cut 10 to 15 positions in a school district without programmatic impact."

Rollback would end if levies not renewed

In the state's Homestead Exemption program, homeowners receive a 10% reduction on their property taxes, according to Davis. 

Property owners who live on their properties receive an additional 2.5% reduction in their property taxes. The state reimburses the 12.5% of funds to the school district. 

But the tax break is only effective for long-standing tax issues.

"This law only exists for any new levy passed prior to 2013," said Davis. "When renewal levies are up, the 12.5% continues on that levy as long as the original levy was passed prior to 2013."

Both Davis and Nichols said the state would continue to pay the 12.5% if their districts' respective levies are approved in November.

However, if the levies do not pass, the districts would have to put them back on the ballot next year and Nichols said, "the 12.5% rollback will no longer be in effect and will be paid by the homeowner instead of the state."

Without the 12.5% rollback, Davis said if the district has to put the levy back on the ballot next year, it would cost $73.15 per $100,000 in property valuation.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.