Sunday, Dec 11, 2016
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Education

Eastwood school levy set for vote

PEMBERVILLE - Voters in the Eastwood Local school district will have another chance to decide the fate of an 8.9-mill replacement levy in a special election Tuesday.

The five-year operating levy is projected to generate $1.5 million annually and replace an 8.9-mill levy approved in 1996. That levy, which expires at year's end, brings in about $1 million a year.

Voters defeated the same levy request, 756 to 1,014, on Feb. 6.

But the school district still needs the money to meet increasing operating costs - utility bills, books, salaries - officials say, and the board of education decided Feb. 16 to place the measure before voters again. “If we went for a renewal only, we would have to come back to the voters in another year or year-and-a-half,” said Tim Meyer, a board member and co-chairman of the levy committee.

But asking for a replacement levy means the district can take advantage of increased valuation in the district since 1996, including reappraisals and residential and commercial new construction.

A mill is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation. Eastwood officials said the renewal levy, if approved, will mean an increase for the owner of a $100,000 home of $94.50 a year over the current levy, or $1,055.50.

No programs or jobs are threatened if the levy fails - so far. But the current levy continues until Dec. 31.

“We've still got November,” William McFarland, superintendent of schools, said. “We're trying to focus on the positives at this point.”

He and Mr. Meyers say the measure failed in February because voters had just gotten higher-than-usual utility bills and their property tax bills, which included reappraisal amounts.

But the board's finance committee decided to place the same amount on the ballot because “if you reduce the millage, it sends the message that you really don't need the money, which isn't true,” Mr. McFarland.

The 110-square-mile district includes the villages of Pemberville and Luckey and is mostly rural. Still, new housing construction has added at least 15 students a year, which means the district has had to hire staff, Mr. McFarland said. Enrollment is about 1,985.

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