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Published: Tuesday, 2/10/2004

Defiance Co. to decide on school levies next month


When voters in Defiance County's Ayersville Local schools go to the polls next month, they might have a case of sticker shock.

The large, 11.68-mill continuing tax request is a combination of two existing school levies; each will be repealed when the new tax - if passed - goes into effect.

County Auditor Marlene J. Goodwin said yesterday that the school district will be collecting the same $1.2 million annually with the new levy as it is with the two existing levies. Those levies include a 7.9-mill tax that was passed in November, 2000, and a three-year emergency levy that's been approved since it first was passed in May, 1984.

“Basically, I'm telling voters a yes vote means no new money,” said Superintendent Tod Hug, who took over at the 900-student district in July.

The Ayersville Local school issue is one of two school levies that will appear on the primary ballot in Defiance County. The other is the Hicksville Exempted Village school district, where voters will decide on a five-year, 0.75 income tax to pay for operating expenses.

There are no primary races for candidates in Defiance County.

If the tax request is approved in Ayersville, Mr. Hug said the money will be used for general operating expenses. He said the board decided to ask voters to combine the two taxes for long-term stability in the district.

Mr. Hug said the tax request would not fund a possible future revamping of the district's buildings. He said the district is looking at a feasibility study about its aging buildings.

In the nearby Hicksville school district, voters will be asked to approve an income tax that would raise an estimated $600,000 annually, new Superintendent Kevin Miller said.

Mr. Miller said an income tax was eyed, versus a property tax, because it was seen as a more equitable way to raise money in the 1,050-student district.

“I think the board feels it's a fairer tax and more acceptable to the community as a whole,” he said.

A public forum on the Hicksville school tax is planned for 7:30 tonight in the high school gym. Another will be at 8 a.m. Wednesday in the same place.

On Feb. 21, board members will meet at Paty's Place restaurant in Hicksville, and they're inviting residents to meet with them for coffee to discuss the tax. Board members will be at the restaurant from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on that day.

Mr. Miller said the district has made budget cuts in advance of the levy request, but it plans to institute a third phase of cuts, including extracurricular activities and academic positions and programs, if the income tax fails.

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