Pickerington plans levy

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Fresh from an Election Day in which voters approved a 5 mill operating levy, the Pickerington Board of Education discussed placing a 7.9 mill levy on the ballot for spring.

The board decided unanimously to keep the levy a renewal rather than make it a replacement.  A replacement levy, like the 5 mill passed in November would raise taxes.  A renewal levy would mean people would pay the same amount of taxes if the levy passes.

"The key words are ‘no new taxes’," said board member Wes Monhollen.

Superintendent Dr. Karen Mantia told the board that, barring a catastrophe, a renewal would support the district for four more years.  

Voters first approved the 7.9 mill levy five years ago.  If not renewed, it will expire in December 2008 and the district will lose $7.2 million a year.

The board disagreed on when to place the levy on the ballot.

Board member Lisa Reade suggested the levy wait until November to allow voters a break and to enable the district time to raise campaign money.  She said it would also break the stigma that the schools must place the issue on the ballot three times before it passes.

"It would be nice to have (the levy) behind us," said board member Gail Oakes.  "We would have all our eggs in one basket if we put it on the ballot in November, the community is aware that we need the money."

"I don’t know how much campaigning we need for a levy that doesn’t raise my taxes," Monhollen said.  "No new taxes, just a renewal of what we have already.  I don’t know how much stronger a campaign can be than that."

If, at its Dec. 10 meeting, the board decides to place the levy on the March ballot, a second meeting will be scheduled for Dec. 17 to ensure the levy proposal is submitted before the board of elections deadline of Dec. 20.

Mantia said the district is extremely grateful to the community for supporting the 5 mill replacement levy.

"Clearly, we need to stretch every dollar," Mantia said.  "Not only for those with kids in our schools, but for those who do not.  Thank you to the community and our residents for your support."

Upon the potential renewal of the 7.9 mill levy the district will enter a "Contract with the Community" to remain off the ballot for four years while maintaining high educational standards.

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