Most area suburban schools are asking voters to approve levies Tuesday to maintain everyday operations and to avoid projected deficits.
The four-year incremental levy that would raise $5.13 million in its final year for Perrysburg Exempted Village Schools is a unique operating levy, and the 4.9-mill operating levy for Sylvania City Schools would raise the most money - $7 million.
Districts not seeking operating levies, such as Oregon City Schools and Rossford Exempted Village Schools, are focusing instead on building improvements.
Lake Local Schools opted to ask for a five-year, 1.25 percent income tax to avoid a general-fund deficit of $2 million by June, 2006, after voters rejected a three-year, 11-mill property tax levy on Aug. 3 by a 2-1 vote.
The levy's defeat prompted the Lake Local school board to stick to its pre-election pledge to cut $1.2 million out of the budget, including the elimination of sports teams and all extracurricular activities.
Residents responded by pledging to approve the income tax through a petition drive that drew more than 2,270 signatures. The move prompted the district to restore more than $700,000 in sports, clubs, and academic programs.
The income tax would raise an estimated $2 million a year for five years, or $500,000 less than the 11-mill property tax would have raised. If the income tax fails, school board members plan to look for more tightening measures and may implement pay-to-play fees, but the restored sports and extracurricular programs are safe for the remainder of this year.
Voters in the Perrysburg Exempted Village School District will see an unusual type of levy on the ballot. The district is requesting a four-year incremental levy, which would raise more money for the school district's operating costs each year.
The levy would collect $3.9 million in its first year and would generate an additional $410,000 in each of the next three years, raising $5.13 million in its final year. School officials said that the district's population and property values are increasing; so the levy's millage can stay the same or decrease and still raise more money every year. The school board pledged to keep the millage at a maximum of 5.8 mills, which would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $177 annually.
Swanton Local School District voters in Lucas and Fulton counties are being asked to renew a 4.34-mill, three-year emergency operating levy that officials describe as key to the district's financial stability. Unless the levy is approved, the district would need to make $412,000 in cuts by June, followed by an additional $412,000 in cuts during the next fiscal year, officials said.
The levy would generate $825,000 annually, costing the owner of a $100,000 home about $132 a year. Levy supporters have said school officials have been closely monitoring revenues and expenditures, but members of the No Swanton Tax Committee contend that cutbacks, including employee benefits and administrative costs, should be made to reduce the district's expenses. Officials have said cost-savings measures have been implemented, and as a result, the district's expenditures decreased by $1.2 million in the last fiscal year.
Ottawa Hills Local Schools is seeking a 5.7-mill operating levy. School officials say the funding is necessary to keep up with rising costs while state support has stayed the same or diminished somewhat. Projections show that the system is headed for a deficit of $800,000 in the 2005 fiscal year.
The school board has made no determination of what action it may take if the levy should fail, but if approved, the levy would raise $1 million per year and would cost the owner of a $200,000 home $350 annually.
Genoa Area Local Schools has placed a five-year, 5-mill renewal operating levy on the ballot that would go into effect in 2006 after the current levy expires in 2005.
The levy has passed three times before. It brings in $474,000 a year and costs the owner of a $100,000 home $86 annually. District officials said the levy would help maintain day-to-day operations and would help pay for utilities, salaries, and textbooks.
Sylvania City Schools officials are asking for a 4.9-mill operating levy to avoid additional personnel cuts and to evade proposed pay-to-play fees for extracurricular activities.
The district contends that it has cut spending by $4.2 million since March, 2003, with the biggest single savings coming earlier this year when 72 jobs were eliminated. Officials have said that much of the revenue shortfall is from reductions in state funding.
Passage would cost the owner of a $170,000 home - the average in the school district - $255 annually. If passed, the measure would raise $7 million each year.
Oregon City Schools officials are asking voters to support a 4.4-mill bond issue that would generate $45 million to help pay for building improvements over the next few years. They are focusing on replacing or renovating schools. The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $154 a year, and the district plans to repay the bond issue over the next 28 years.
School officials are recommending replacing Coy Elementary School, making significant additions and renovations to Clay High School, and making some additions, renovations, or both to the rest of the district's schools.
Northwood Local Schools has a 3.9-mill operating levy on the ballot to offset a projected district budget deficit in the 2006-07 school year.
The levy would bring in $488,151 annually and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $119 a year.
The revenue would be used for day-to-day costs related to personnel, equipment, supplies, transportation, utilities, technology, building maintenance, and learning materials.
Rossford Exempted Village Schools voters are facing a 2-mill continuous capital improvements levy on the ballot to maintain its facilities.
If approved, the levy would raise $783,644 a year and would cost $61 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.
Plans for the money generated by the levy include replacing windows at Eagle Point Elementary, repairing the parking lot at Glenwood Elementary, and refurbishing the auditorium at Rossford High School.
Blade staff writers Mike Jones, Janet Romaker, and Rachel Zinn contributed to this report.