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Published: Monday, 2/17/2003

North Baltimore schools plan 2 levies for ballot

NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio - The cash-strapped North Baltimore Local School District, which eliminated extracurricular activities after its last levy request was defeated, plans a new approach in its appeal for tax money.

Superintendent Rick Van Mooy said last week the 850-student district has asked the Wood County auditor to certify two replacement levies for the May primary ballot.

Last week the board of education passed a resolution for an 8-mill, five-year operating levy and a 6-mill continuing operating levy.

Unlike the levies they will replace, however, the two tax issues will collect more money, thanks to higher property values within the district.

The district's 8-mill operating levy, passed in 1988, expires at the end of the year. It is collecting only 4.85 mills, or $329,000, because state law does not allow schools to collect additional money that would result from increased tax valuations. Passing new levies at the same millage would result in higher collections.

North Baltimore also wants to replace its permanent 6-mill operating levy, passed in 1980, with the same millage. The old levy only collects $188,000, at an effective 2.77-mill rate, Mr. Van Mooy said.

If both issues pass, North Baltimore would collect $434,000 annually. Should voters turn down the 6-mill issue, the district would continue to collect the original levy at the lower level.

In November voters rejected a 6.9-mill school levy request, the second time that request was defeated, prompting the board to cut $283,651 by eliminating most activities and reducing transportation to the state minimum.

“Obviously we have to give up on the 6.9 mill amount,” the superintendent said.

Two positive moves should help persuade voters to approve the issues this time, Mr. Van Mooy said.

One, the district will reduce its bond debt from construction of a new Powell Elementary building with a $270,000 payment. That money was left over from the project, which was officially completed last month. Paying down the debt will save interest payments over the life of the note, he said.

Additionally, Mr. Van Mooy agreed to freeze his salary at $85,000 for the last four years of his contract, a move that should save the district between $8,000 and $9,000, he said.

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