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Published: Wednesday, 8/11/2004

Perrysburg schools eye incremental levy

The Perrysburg Board of Education plans to put an unusual type of levy on the November ballot to fund operation of the district for the next four years.

The school board yesterday voted 4-1 to move forward with requesting a four-year levy that would raise $3,963,823 in its first year and collect an additional $410,050 in each of the next three years. Board member Walter Edinger dissented, saying the levy would not provide enough money for the district.

The board has submitted the measure to the Wood County auditor for certification and is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to put the levy before voters in November.

"We're trying to keep the amount of millage and taxes down as low as possible, but still have cash available to run the district," board member Ken Widdel said.

The millage will not be finalized until next week, but school officials estimated that the levy will be 5.8 mills, costing the owner of a home valued at $100,000 roughly $178 in additional yearly taxes. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed value.

The unique part of Perrysburg's proposed levy is the gradual increase of revenue it collects. This type of levy, referred to as an incremental levy, is used by less than a dozen districts around Ohio, school officials said.

"This levy represents what we consider the cost of doing business as it goes up on an annual basis," board member Barry VanHoozen said.

Although the levy will collect more money each year, residents will probably pay less millage over the years as property values increase, superintendent Michael Cline said.

Voters last approved funding for Perrysburg schools in 2002 when they passed a two-year, 5.9-mill emergency levy. That issue is to expire at the end of this year.

To help determine the amount the district needs to raise with a new levy, volunteer committees and school officials have been formulating a strategic plan. The school board will vote Monday on whether to adopt the proposed strategic plan, which calls for additional spending on technology, staff development, and upgrading facilities.

Mr. Edinger said that the incremental levy approved by the school board will not collect enough money to fund the goals outlined in the strategic plan.

"The board has chosen a shortsighted approach based on what they think will pass," he said. "Asking for an inadequate amount sets us up for problems for the next four years."

Other school officials disagreed.

"I'd love to ask for more, but as I see our strategic plan and our schools, I think we can make this amount work," board member Gretchen Downs said.



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