Opponents of an incremental levy for Perrysburg Schools on the Nov. 6 ballot say the request is too greedy and burdensome, while supporters say the caliber of education the district provides is worth every penny.
With the current 9.95-mill levy expiring at the end of the year, the district is seeking an estimated 13.15 mills that would generate $10 million in the first year. The tax would increase to 14.4 mills in the second year, 15.7 mills in the third year, and 17 mills in the final fourth year.
School administrators and campaigners have said the additional millage is to mitigate the projected loss of state funds estimated at $3.9 million for the 2012-13 school year and $2.8 million for 2013-14.
Perrysburg resident Philip Caron called the levy an “unashamed request” to keep high salaries in place.
“Paying people more doesn’t guarantee excellent education,” Mr. Caron said.
Under the current levy, the owner of a $200,000 home pays about $609 a year. Under the replacement levy, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $204 more the first year, then about $72 more a year during the next three years.
Mr. Caron, a business development manager for a Maumee company, said levy requests like this are a hardship on taxpayers who are on fixed incomes.
“I need to work in order to pay those taxes,” he said, adding that the district should have asked for a more manageable millage.
Should the levy fail, Superintendent Thomas Hosler and Treasurer Matt Feasel have proposed spending $1.1 million from the district’s cash reserves along with making cuts in staff, programs, and operations.
Nearly 96 positions in administration, teaching, and support would have to be eliminated, they said. Courses such as foreign language, technology, music, art, and physical education would be cut or reduced. The school day length and bus routes would be adjusted, and support would be withdrawn for athletics and extracurricular activities.
Mr. Caron called that nothing less than intimidation.
Levy proponents include graduates of Perrysburg who have said the preparation they received was instrumental in their personal success.
Kellie Johnson, fourth-grade teacher at Woodland Elementary and PHS graduate, was dismayed that technology classes were on the chopping block.
She has a master’s degree in the area and said she is intent on integrating modern tools such as Smart Boards into her classroom. Cuts would hinder the district’s ability to promote 21st century learning and equip the students for their futures, she said.
“We chose to live in Perrysburg because of the schools,” Ms. Johnson said of her family.
Jon Materni, who graduated from Perrysburg High School in 2010, said he doubts he would have been admitted to Michigan Technological University had he not had an education that included courses in the field.
“You’re only hurting the students,” if such cuts are made, he said.
Mr. Materni said companies that may be his future employers have global interests and would not likely consider candidates with no foreign language skills.
James Austermiller, a former state auditor and retired finance director for the city of Oregon who lives in Perrysburg Township, said the large request was premature.
“They should have done a smaller levy which would have been more palatable,” he said.
Mr. Austermiller said voters may not fully understand the collection process for the incremental levy or its estimated millage.
“That’s the big word there. ... There’s no reduction in taxes. That’s one issue that the taxpayers don’t understand,” he said.