If Springfield voters deny a school levy request next month, they can expect to see two levies on the ballot in November.
The Springfield Board of Education took the first step Wednesday to go to voters Nov. 4 with a request to renew the district’s 1.35-mill permanent improvement levy and also to place an operating levy on the November ballot if the issue fails in an August special election.
Springfield voters will first see the 7.9-mill operating levy on Aug. 5. That levy is permanent, would raise about $5.4 million a year, and would cost a homeowner of a $100,000 house $276.50 a year.
Springfield was originally scheduled to be on the May ballot with a 3.9-mill operating levy. But the board voted in March to pull that levy off the ballot, saying that such a levy would be insufficient to address a $2.5 million budget deficit.
It then voted in April to place the 7.9-mill operating levy on the Aug. 5 ballot. Board members said the district was committed to making $1 million in cuts in conjunction with seeking the levy. Passage of such a large levy request will be tough going for the district, and failure at the polls would mean deep cuts for Springfield schools.
Wednesday’s action was a hedge against the possible levy failure. The board has until Aug. 6 to place a levy on the November ballot, but the auditor’s office requires levy information 10 days in advance, so the district can’t wait to see how their first shot at passage went.
“We would certainly love to see what happens in August and then make a decision, but our hands are tied,” board member Keiran Menacher said.
Board members have blamed insufficient state education funding and unfunded mandates, including technology requirements for new state tests, for the need for a property tax levy.
“Instead they’ve chosen to cut taxes at the state level and look like the good guys, and turn around and make us at the local level raise taxes,” board Vice President Ken Musch said.
Property tax levies in Ohio require two votes: a resolution of necessity and a resolution to place a levy on the ballot. The Springfield board voted Wednesday on the necessity of a levy, and now must have financial documents certified by the Lucas County Auditor’s Office.
The board also took the first step to put a 1.35-mill renewal levy on the November ballot. That five-year levy is for permanent improvements — essentially capital funds.
District Treasurer Ryan Lockwood said that levy generates about $800,000 a year. He did not have an immediate estimate for the cost per homeowner.
Board members also approved a tentative agreement with two employee unions that would keep wage rates the same for the next year. Employees represented by both Ohio Association of Public School Employees and the Springfield Education Association had wage reopeners in their contracts.