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Published: 9/28/2005

Maumee: 4.8-mill levy on ballot for expenses

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Maumee City School District is asking voters to help keep it out of debt.

Residents in the district will decide on Nov. 8 whether to approve a 4.8-mill levy that would raise $2.4 million annually for supplies, utilities, salaries, and other operating expenses.

The district is holding community forums to discuss its finances at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Wayne Trail Elementary School, after a board meeting; and at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at Gateway Middle School.

Superintendent Greg Smith said he hopes people attend the forums to learn why the district needs the levy.

"If people really want to know all the facts, there will be plenty of opportunities," he said.

The district is facing a projected $3 million deficit by the 2006-07 school year, a result of reductions in state funding and taxes paid by city businesses. The district has lost about $4 million in revenue over the past several years.

"Every time we turn around, the state yanks a little more of the rug out from under us," Mr. Smith said.

The district gets about $5 million a year in personal tangible property taxes paid by businesses in the city, but the most recent state budget phases that tax out, district treasurer Paul Brotzki said.

The district has cut $1.3 million from this year's budget, and it made $1.2 million in cuts last year.

Last year the district did not replace some teachers who retired and cut $75,000 from the technology budget.

This year, eight more teachers who retired or resigned were not replaced. About $100,000 was cut from the technology budget, the textbook budget was cut by $72,000, and field trips were cancelled. Staff reductions include an elementary librarian, custodian, secretary, lunch room monitors, and proficiency preparation teachers. The district also increased student fees and lunch prices, estimated to bring in about $66,000 in additional revenue.

The superintendent and treasurer's salaries have been frozen since 2003.

If the levy doesn't pass in November, further cuts of about $1.3 million will be needed, Mr. Smith said.

One purpose of the forums is to see what residents think could be cut, he said.

"It's up to the community to tell us where to go from here," he said.

The continuing levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $147 a year.

Even if it is approved, the district would need another levy in 2008 to prevent a $1.2 million deficit in 2009. Voters rejected a 5.9-mill levy in May.

In 2003, financial projections said the operating levy passed then would take the district through the 2007-08 school year, Mr. Smith said.

"What the state has done is put the entire burden on the residents," he said.

Also on the ballot are three uncontested school board seats. Incumbents Glenn Rambo, Sylvia Washburn, and Stephanie Piechowiak are up for re-election.



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