By Rick Palsgrove
Treasurer Tony Swartz said the Groveport Madison Board of Education should consider placing a $5 million operating levy on the May 2014 ballot.
According to the district’s most recent five-year financial forecast prepared by Swartz, the district will have a financial deficit of $4.2 million in fiscal year 2014; $2.1 million in 2015; $1 million in 2016; $766,683 in 2017; and $1.4 million in 2018.
Swartz said a 2011 county reappraisal of property values in the district showed an 8 percent decrease in values. This impacts the district, which depends on property taxes as a source of revenue.
Additionally, Swartz said 2012 property tax collections “came in way below estimates and delinquent property taxes have climbed to $2.5 million, which is a delinquency rate of more than 10 percent.”
Swartz said the district has “three buckets of money” to pull from:
•The $67 million general fund,which is money primarily from property taxes and state funding, which funds most things in the district, such as salaries and operations.
•A $2 million permanent improvement fund, made up of $1 million from property taxes and $1 million from an income tax revenue sharing agreement with the city of Groveport. This fund can only be used for things with “a useful life of five years or more,” according to Swartz, such as equipment and buildings.
•Federal grants of various amounts.
“All this money doesn’t go too far,” said Swartz.
Maria McGraw, chairperson for the Committee for Better Schools, said the citizen committee collected more than 250 signatures from district residents who support the idea of placing a levy on the May ballot. She said 65 of the signees are willing to volunteer to work on a levy campaign.
McGraw said feedback her committee received from residents indicates the public wants to have input on funding levels and on what services would be reinstated and implemented.
Groveport Madison Superintendent Bruce Hoover said results from focus group studies over the past few months indicate there is a need to get the community more involved with the district. He said many residents indicated they were not aware of the $5.5 million levy that failed by 12 votes last May. He said others stated the information shared by the district about that levy was not clear enough, especially regarding the district’s financial situation and goals.
The school board would have to take action in January to place a levy on the May 2014 ballot.