The Rossford Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. today in Bulldog Center to take the final step in placing a request for a 4.49-mill operating levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.
By a 3-2 vote last week, the board adopted a resolution declaring the necessity for the additional tax and requesting certification for the proposed levy by the Wood County auditor.
The proposed new millage would extend for five years and generate $1.8 million annually for the strapped district.
The owner of a $100,000 home would pay an additional $157.15 per year, said James Rossler, the district’s treasurer.
Like other districts, Rossford has been coping with a significant drop in property valuations and the phaseout of Ohio’s tangible personal property tax. It has not asked voters for additional operating funds in 12 years.
The last year district revenue exceeded expenses was 2009-2010, with reserves covering deficits since then. Those reserves, however, are projected to run out by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
Absent new revenue, Mr. Rossler projects a deficit of $2.26 million by the end of 2017-2018, and a negative fund balance of $7.27 million a year later.
To cut costs, the district closed Indian Hills Elementary as a school building at the end of the 2013-2014 year, and in May the board approved four teacher layoffs.
Last year, the board approved a new three-year teachers’ contract that includes small pay raises and continues 4 percent step increases, but requires teachers to pay more for medical insurance.
Rossford’s teachers are the highest paid in Wood County, according to the Ohio Department of Education.
Mr. Rossler and Superintendent Dan Creps supported going to the voters in November.
“If we lose another year of [tax] collection, that number won’t be 4.49 [mills], it will be significantly higher,” Mr. Rossler explained to the board last week.
Board members Jackie Brown and Beverly Koch objected, saying more attention should be given to reducing costs before asking for a tax increase.
Ms. Koch said a state performance audit of the district should be more closely looked at “before we talk of a tax increase.”
The audit’s recommendations purportedly could save about $3.75 million annually if implemented, but were based on information from the 2011-2012 and 2012 and 2013 fiscal years and did not include cost-cutting implemented since then.
It found Rossford’s administrative and instructional spending was 40 percent higher than comparable districts, and its spending on building operations were 26 percent higher.
Mr. Creps said cost-cutting would continue even with the adoption of an additional operating levy.
Contact Carl Ryan at: email@example.com or 419-724-6095.
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