(Posted July 19, 2017)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Registered voters in the Madison-Plains Local School District will head to the polls in a special election on Aug. 8 to decide the fate of an emergency 5.953-mill operating levy.
Passage of the levy would bring in an additional $2,050,000 a year for the next five years, allowing the district to continue its current academic programming and prevent cuts. If passed, the levy will cost taxpayers $200 per year per $100,000 of residential property valuation.
The last time the district received new tax revenue was in 2005. Since then, expenses and inflation have gone up, said Tim Dettwiller, district superintendent.
“We have tried to offset increases with attrition and cost-saving measures, but when inflation goes up and your revenues stay flat, you’re going to cross that line. We’ve been eating into our general fund balance for several years,” he said.
Currently, the district has enough funds to operate for the 2017-18 academic year, but without additional funding will face a deficit starting in October 2018. By state law, school districts are not permitted to operate with a deficit.
“Since 2013, the district has operated under a 10-year financial plan. The plan predicted in 2013 that our general fund would be in the red in school year 2017,” Dettwiller said. “We took immediate steps to reduce projected spending to push the deficit out as far as possible.”
The reductions succeeded in pushing the projected deficit to the 2018-19 school year. If the levy passes on Aug. 8, tax collections will start in 2018, which would allow the district to receive funding before cuts would be needed.
“The board and administration are very thankful to the taxpayers for supporting us in the past. We understand that taxes are a burden, and we do appreciate their support,” Dettwiller said.
Treasurer Todd Mustain has prepared graphs comparing Madison-Plains’ tax rates and certain costs, such as average teacher’s pay, to other districts. The information can be accessed online at www.mplsd.org/election.aspx.
For other levy details, call the central office at (740) 852-0290.