By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester school district voters face a ballot issue in the spring that district officials assure property owners will not result in new school taxes.
“The most important thing people need to realize is that this is a renewal,” said Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent James Sotlar during a Dec.17 Canal Winchester Board of Education meeting. “We are not asking for any new money.”
Renewal of the five-year substitute emergency levy provides more than $6.2 million in revenue, which accounts for more than 15 percent of the district’s operating budget and allows the district to receive additional income from new development, residential and commercial without impacting existing residents.
Sotlar said the levy is critical in providing financial stability and maintaining daily operations such as personnel costs, utilities, building improvements, curriculum and busing.
Because the levy is a renewal, it keeps a 12.5 percent state tax roll back in place, for which the state continues to pick up 12.5 percent of a property owner’s school tax.
Canal Winchester Schools Treasurer Nick Roberts said, since the levy was last renewed in 2014, the collected amount has gone down two mills as property values have increased.
“As value goes up, we need less to get to that $6.2 million,” said Roberts. “This (renewal) will pick up new construction values. Once it gets approved, it (individual tax bill) could be even lower. It can go down every year with new valuation.”
However, Roberts cautioned if the levy does not pass now or later in 2019 and expires at the end of the year, the district will need even more money because the loss will eat into Canal Winchester’s cash balance. It would also mean the end of the 12.5 percent state roll back.
“With passage, we don’t expect we’ll need more new money in the next 10 years,” said Roberts. “2009 was the last time we asked for new money.”
Board members unanimously approved a resolution declaring the district’s intent to proceed with the substitute renewal levy for the May 7 ballot.
•Sotlar announced that Winchester Trail Elementary School was designated a Purple Star School because of the school’s programs honoring military families, friends and veterans.
It is the first building in the district to be so honored, but Sotlar hopes the designation will spread throughout the district.
“Our goal is to get another Purple Star School next year,” said Sotlar “and even have all four buildings identified as Purple Star Schools.”
•The board also appointed Kevin Butler as president pro-tempore until the board conducts its annual organizational meeting on Jan. 14 at 6:45 p.m., when the 2019 president will be elected.