By Rick Palsgrove
Voters in the Groveport Madison school district will decide on a 6.68 mill continuing operating levy that will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.
The levy is for current operating expenses.
When asked earlier this year if a continuing levy is essentially a permanent levy since it does not have a fixed term, former Groveport Madison Communications Director Jeff Warner said, “While there are differences in the legal terminology, it is essentially a permanent levy.”
School officials said the levy is a “no new taxes” renewal of the existing levy and that its passage is “crucial to get the financial support to maintain our programming for our students.”
District resident Ernest Lee told the Groveport Madison Board of Education at its June 14 meeting that the levy would be a hardship for seniors and individuals.
“You say it (the levy) is not new, but it is because it’s permanent, so accountability goes away,” said Lee. “You think residents have money just to give to the board to do whatever it wants.”
Board President LaToya Dowdell-Burger said there is a senior citizens home exemption available that has been expanded in the new state budget and state law.
The district has not received any new money since the current expiring 6.68 mill expense levy was first approved by voters in 2014. That “no new taxes” levy was renewed by 67 percent of voters in 2019.
If the levy is approved in November, the district would receive half the funds it generates in 2025 and the remainder in 2026.
District officials said that inflation is causing expenses to outpace flat revenues.
According to the district’s most recent five year forecast, this revenue gap could grow to $4.8 million next year and $9 million the following year.
In fiscal year 2023, the five year forecast shows expenditures are expected to be greater than revenue by $1 million. By fiscal year 2027, expenditures are projected to be greater than revenue by $18.2 million. The district would need to cut its fiscal year 2027 projected expenses by 16.2 percent to balance its budget without additional revenue. The district’s cash balance is positive at year‐end in fiscal year 2023 and is projected to worsen by fiscal year 2027.
According to district officials, a worsening cash balance can erode the district’s financial stability over time.
To ensure the district has the necessary resources to keep up its services to students and provide additional safety measures, officials said the district needs to close the revenue gap, which includes: spending reductions, renewing the expiring levy, and passing a new additional levy – or a combination of these actions.
During the April board meeting, former treasurer Felicia Drummey said the district could consider $4 million in spending reductions to balance the operating budget, depending on the board’s comfort level in reducing services.
According the district’s most recent five year forecast released, 42 percent of its total revenue comes from property taxes, 39 percent from state funding, and about 20 percent from other sources. Salaries make up 52 percent of expenditures, benefits are 23 percent, purchased services are 17 percent, and supplies/materials are 3.5 percent.