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Published: Tuesday, 7/17/2012

Levy decision nears in Perrysburg

School board considers options

BY GABRIELLE RUSSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Perrysburg school officials are closer to determining how much they want to ask from taxpayers in what is shaping up as a crowded Nov. 6 election.

The district's new tax, if approved, would replace an incremental tax levy set to expire at the end of the year. The measure is expected be on the same ballot as the city's public transit tax proposal. The city is in the process of establishing its own public transportation system to replace TARTA.

About 4,000 Perrysburg school voters live in Perrysburg Township, where officials are seeking a 4-mill continuing levy in the general election to fund fire and emergency medical services.

School Superintendent Thomas Hosler acknowledged he was concerned about voters, overwhelmed by so many new taxes, rejecting the schools' proposal.

"You have to go out to voters and explain your need," he said. "We just have to make sure people understand our story."

With an incremental tax, the district would ask voters to approve a set dollar amount that increases annually to help fund the schools' operating budget. The incremental tax is different from more traditional levies, with which voters approve a specific millage amount.

The owner of a $200,000 house currently pays $609 annually -- or 9.95 mills -- for the incremental levy, which is generating $7.57 million this year.

Under the new proposal, the board is considering asking that same homeowner to pay an additional $195 in the first year. Under that proposal, the levy would generate $10 million in the first year. With that first option, taxes would increase another $81 annually for that same homeowner in the second year of the four-year levy. The district's tax revenue would grow $1 million annually on top of the $10 million already being collected.

Under the second option, the owner of a $200,000 home would still pay $195 more in taxes in the first year. But taxes would grow about $97 annually for that homeowner the remaining three years. That levy would generate $1.25 million annually in addition to the $10 million.

Perrysburg's board of education is expected to debate the two proposals at a meeting Monday, then move forward in the two-step process of placing an issue on the ballot.

The tax increases are needed as state funding drops and student enrollment continues to rise, district Treasurer Matt Feasel said "We operate on a shoestring budget," he said.

Officials touted the incremental levy as a way to generate only what the district needs, raising taxes gradually over a period of time as costs rise.

If the levy fails, consequences would likely include closing an elementary school, laying off teachers, or making program cuts. Mr. Hosler said the district has not determined specific details on possible cuts.

"It's speculation," Mr. Hosler said. "We need to come up with a plan."



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