By Linda Dillman
Voters will face one of three possible emergency levy options next year intended to continue collecting $5.8 million per year for Canal Winchester Local Schools.
The current emergency levy and a .5-mill classroom facilities levy expire Dec. 31, 2014. The emergency designation is a legal term for a fixed dollar amount levy as opposed to a traditional levy which generates dollars based on a fixed millage rate.
At its Dec. 16 meeting, the Canal Winchester Board of Education voted to send three proposals to the Franklin County Auditor’s office to determine the millage for a possible five year, seven year and continuing substitute renewal levies that would generate $5.8 million annually.
According to Superintendent James Sotlar, the only difference between the three options is the term of the levy.
“This is the first step in placing a levy on the ballot,” said Treasurer Joyce Boyer.
Once the auditor’s office determines the actual millage, the school board will whittle the list down to one levy for the May ballot by approving and submitting a resolution of intent to proceed at the January board meeting.
A substitute levy option allows the district to collect income on new growth. A substitute renewal collects the full amount of the emergency levy, a rollback remains intact and the district receives additional revenue from new construction.
The district receives almost half of its funding from the state, which has flatlined or declined over the last several years. In order to avoid a financial “cliff,” Canal Winchester is attempting to break the cycle of constantly appearing on the ballot by working with the community to turn limited levies into more stable continuing levies.
However, if Canal Winchester voters do not renew the $5.8 million levy in the spring, the district anticipates a $5.3 million negative cash balance in 2017. The negative balance would grow to $13.9 million the following fiscal year.
According to the district website, the average home value in Canal Winchester is $143,910 and the effective millage rate for all school taxes (bond, operating, permanent improvement and income) is 48.12. Therefore, taxes on a home valued at $143,910 are $2,628/year or $219/month.
Income tax revenue is estimated to increase at a rate of 1.5 percent during the upcoming two fiscal years, and then by 2 percent the following three years. Insurance is estimated to increase at a 10 percent rate per year from fiscal year 2015 through 2018.
Based on a 5-year forecast approved by the board in October, a 5.5 percent overall increase in student enrollment is projected by fiscal year 2018, coupled with a modest increase in staff based on enrollment.
The filing deadline for the May election is Feb. 5.