The Maumee Board of Education agreed Monday morning to ask voters to approve a tax increase in May to keep the district out of debt for a few more years.
The 5.9-mill operating levy, if approved, would generate more than $2.4 million annually for the school district.
The board is looking to voters to help offset projected deficits of more than $4 million by the 2021 school year and more than $8 million by 2022.
According to the district's five-year forecast, the 5.9-mill levy would keep the district out of the red until at least 2022.
During Monday’s special board meeting, held at 7:30 a.m., the board contemplated passing either a 4, 4.9, 5.5, or 5.9-mill levy. The district would have been operating at a deficit by 2022 had the board selected any of the three lower options, school officials said.
“If we’re going to do it, we have to do it right,” board Vice President Diane Balcerzak said during Monday’s discussion. “The other options are all in the red. So if we’re going to do it, we need to focus on getting out of the red.”
The school district’s current three-year forecast predicts the school system would have a negative balance by 2020. The current budget could not compensate for salary raises, benefits, and increased utility costs, leaving the district cash-strapped and ultimately with a negative balance of over $900,000 by 2020, district treasurer Paul Brotzki said.
As a result, the Ohio Department of Education sent the district a letter in December asking how the board how it planned to resolve its budget issues.
The board responded by putting a levy on the ballot.
Board President Mike Wiley said with the economy trending upward, this might be the optimal time to ask taxpayers for money.
“From everything I hear, the economy is the best it’s been in a while,” Mr. Wiley said. “If that’s the case, then I would think we would try a 5.9 levy, because if we can’t pass a 5.9 levy in a good economy, we’ll never be able to pass it.”
Several board members expressed their concerns regarding the consequences that could come in the future if the district doesn’t pass a levy.
“People have to be prepared that down the road, we’re going to make cuts we don’t want to make because it will eventually affect our students and our community,” board member Janet Wolff said. “When we get into busing, when we get into laying people off, when we get into maybe closing a school, that’s what scares me. “
Voters approved a 3.9-mill dual-purpose levy in November, 2014, for the Maumee City School District. But Maumee taxpayers narrowly rejected a 5.9-mill levy request in 2011.
The board must submit the resolution passed Monday to Lucas County Board of Elections by Feb. 7.
The district is projected to spend $31.5 million this year, Mr. Brotzki said. The district already has cut $1.5 million from its budget since the 2015-16 academic year.
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