Friday, April 25th, 2014

Madison-Plains to seek levy renewal this spring

By Amanda Amsel, Staff Writer

Madison-Plains Local Schools will seek voter support this spring when they ask for renewal of an expiring levy.

The school board unanimously voted at their Jan. 14 meeting to place the renewal of an 8-mill levy to the May ballot.

“This current levy started being collected in 2011 and expires in 2014,” said Tim Dettwiller, district treasurer. “Currently, this levy collects $1.46 million annually, which equals to 11 percent of our operating money. Without these funds, we cannot survive.”

The school district is projected to have a deficit of approximately $1,630,800 by 2019, however without the renewal of the levy that deficit could come much sooner.

“We originally were supposed to be in the red in 2017, but we have made major reduction expenditures in order to avoid this,” Dettwiller said. “We have consolidated to one site, cut staff, reduced utilities and bought retirees out of the retirement incentive program.”

Despite the cost cutting efforts, school officials say the district cannot keep up with the rising cost of inflation, which is why they need help from taxpayers.

The renewal levy request is for a continuing period of time, meaning once it passes, it will never expire and never need to be renewed. However, the levy will not be enough to avoid a deficit. The school board is also considering asking for a conversion or emergency levy in 2016. The form that levy request takes will determine what, if any, budget cuts need to take place in 2015.

“We need additional dollars to operate in the same fashion as we do today,” said Superintendent Bernie Hall. “We need help and are trying to be as transparent as possible. We do not want the community to say if they would have known they could have done something.”

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