By Linda Dillman
The Canal Winchester Board of Education is considering levy scenarios.
An $5.8 million emergency levy and .5-mill classroom facilities levy will expire Dec. 31, 2014. Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar said the need for the emergency levy is to continue the district’s financial stability without increasing taxes for taxpayers.
“We’re looking at financial stability and maintaining excellence for our students now and into the future,” said Sotlar. “We’re also looking at levy fatigue.”
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.
Income tax revenue is estimated to increase at a rate of 1.5 percent during the next 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 2015-18.
If Canal Winchester voters do not renew the $5.8 million emergency levy, 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.
Board members also discussed a levy renewal, albeit reduced by $1 million from the current amount.
“If we renew the emergency levy at this reduced amount, the school district anticipates a positive cash balance of only $923,830,” said Treasurer Joyce Boyer. “The last time we renewed the levy, we reduced it by $609,000.”
Sotlar said the district faces five levy options—a new levy in which a rollback exemption is eliminated; a replacement; a renewal with an increase; a renewal for the same amount; or a substitute renewal in that collects the full amount of the emergency levy, the rollback remains intact and the district receives additional revenue from new construction growth.
Sotlar believes the two most viable options are renewal of the levy or a substitute levy renewal, along with a determination of the length of the levy—a set number of years or a continuing term.
Legal advisor Becky Princehorn said the board could place the emergency levy on the ballot in the spring and then come back in the fall for the half-mill facilities levy or ask for approval of both at the same time.
The board must pass a resolution of necessity to determine the type of emergency levy it wants to place on the ballot. The next step is a resolution of intent, which sets the ballot language that will appear before voters. The filing deadline for the May 2014 election is Feb. 5.
“You could pass several resolutions of necessity and then decide what to do on the ballot,” said Boyer. “The resolution of necessity would be passed in December and then you come back in January and make your final selection (on the resolution of intent).”