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Published: Friday, 5/4/2001

Margaretta schools want permanent levy

CASTALIA, Ohio - Voters in the Margaretta Local school district will be asked Tuesday to renew an operating levy for the 1,600-student district, but officials for the first time are seeking to make it a permanent tax.

The proposed 6.8-mill levy would replace a three-year, 7.75-mill tax voters passed in February, 1998. The permanent levy would raise an estimated $1.1 million a year, but officials said residents should not see a tax increase unless their property values have gone up.

The money, which would be a decrease of about $25,000 annually from the current tax, is needed to pay for general operating expenses, Superintendent Chris Boyd said yesterday.

“It's just critical for continuing our education,” he said. “This is money that's essential to us.”

District Treasurer Jack Coffman said the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $104.13 annually. He said that does not represent new taxes because residents are paying for the 7.75-mill levy. Mr. Boyd said this is the district's first attempt at making the operating levy a permanent tax. He said school officials don't want to continue asking voters to approve the tax every three years.

In December, 1997, Margaretta board members had to make cuts after voters twice that year rejected operating levies. A three-year, 5.2-mill levy was defeated in November, and a five-year, 6.5-mill request also was rejected in May. The school board ordered the layoffs of an elementary education aide, an elementary computer aide, a custodian, and a high school library aide. In-school suspensions also were reduced from five to three days a week.

Mr. Boyd said school officials have not discussed making cuts if the tax fails. But he said they would be forced to return to voters with another levy request.

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