By Linda Dillman
On Nov. 19, the Canal Winchester Board of Education took the first step in asking voters to renew a five-year substitute emergency levy that provides $6 million in revenue, which is more than 15 percent of the district’s operating budget.
The substitute emergency renewal levy allows the district to receive additional income from new development, residential and commercial without impacting existing residents.
“This will guarantee us at least another five years, if not more, of financial stability for the district,” said Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent Jim Sotlar. “We haven’t asked for new money since 2009.”
The board approved a resolution of necessity to start the process and will need to follow-up with a resolution of intent before going on the May 2019 ballot. Canal Winchester Schools Treasurer Nick Roberts said the board must finalize approval by February to meet the ballot deadline.
“Our money will expire at the end of 2019, so it is extremely important that we get this on the ballot in May,” Sotlar said, “in case something doesn’t happen, we can come back in November. It is a renewal. We are not asking for any new school tax money. We’re asking to renew what we have in place.”
Sotlar said the levy is critical in providing financial stability and maintaining daily operations such as personnel costs, utilities, building improvements, curriculum and busing.
“Loss of these funds will impact our path of progress that we’ve all worked so hard to build,” said Sotlar. “The substitute emergency renewal allows us to continue with programs and teachers that students need to be prepared for college and careers.”
Since the levy is a renewal, it keeps the 12.5 percent state tax rollback in place, which means the state will continue to pick up 12.5 percent of a property owner’s school tax.
According to Sotlar, the county auditor will certify the actual millage amount based on 2018 property valuations in time for board approval in December.
“Recently, the millage amount needed to fulfill the levy amount has decreased due to increasing property values,” said Sotlar “We expect this trend to continue moving forward. If the levy is not approved, we will lose $6.1 million dollars per year. The loss would create an unbalanced budget as a result, diminishing reserve balances and causing the district to ask for new money sooner.”