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Published: Wednesday, 9/12/2007

Schools may seek levy in March

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With a significant slice of their operating millage expiring at the end of next year, Perrysburg school officials are looking at March as a likely month to put a levy request on the ballot.

"We're looking at March, but we don't have ballot language and we don't have a firm amount yet," school board President Walter Edinger said. "March is a good time because a lot of people will be going to the polls."

The school district's unusual 5.8-mill incremental levy, which took effect in 2005, will have to be renewed or replaced next year to maintain current funding levels thereafter.

The levy is unusual in that it generates additional revenue as property taxes rise. Officials credit it with doing much for the district's financial stability.

This year the incremental levy is expected to generate $4,783,924, then rise to $5,193,974 next year, according to school district figures. It accounts for 14 percent of the school system's operating income, said Matt Feasel, the schools' treasurer.

The district's new superintendent, Thomas Hosler, acknowledged that a March request would allow for follow-up tries, should the measure fail, before the current levy expires. But Mr. Hosler insisted, "We are hoping we can get it right the first time."

The superintendent said the goal was to have sufficient funding to maintain programs and pay for possible new ones, such as all-day kindergarten. To that end, district administrators are drafting projections of future financial needs, including alternative state funding forecasts.

"We're trying to look in the crystal ball and see four years from now what the situation will be with the state," Mr. Hosler said. "We're trying to read the tea leaves and see what the future holds. For every dollar we get, we want to have a plan for that dollar."

There is one certainty, he said: the schools can expect no new state funding this year or next.

Added Mr. Edinger: "We want to be accurate. We don't want to ask for more than we needand we don't want to come up short."

The board plans to move quickly, Mr. Edinger said. While it has until Dec. 20 to send its proposal to the Wood County Board of Elections, "we want to be ready before then. We want to be ready before Christmas gets in the way."

Before filing with the elections board, officials also will have to decide whether to ask for a renewal, a replacement, or a simple new levy.

Mr. Feasel said he would favor something similar to the incremental levy now in place.



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