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Millage still in question
Leaders in the South-Western City School District have already said they will pursue an operating only levy this spring. Now they are left to hammer out the millage amount.
District Treasurer Hugh Garside explained at the Jan. 26 board meeting, that to make up for lost collections from 2008, the district would need a higher millage amount.
In November, voters rejected a combined 6-mill operating levy and 3.69-mill bond issue. Garside said now the district has no opportunity to collect new taxes in 2009.
f the district were to pass a levy this May, the tax dollars would not roll in until 2010. Garside said it would take at least a 9.2-mill tax levy to make up that difference. Anything less and “significant cuts” would have to be made.
The treasurer explained that a 9.2-mill operating levy would keep the district solvent through the 2011 school year. If the board wanted to keep the district out of trouble until 2013, voters would need to pass an 11.5-mill tax levy.
A 9.2-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $24 per month or $288 per year. An 11.5-mill would cost that same owner $30 a month or $357 a year.
“We are already looking at about $8 million in cuts for the next fiscal year,” said Garside. “They would be very substantial cuts.”
Garside said the district might cut approximately 100 positions. This is an addition to the 260 positions lost in 2007.
“These are positions that do not come back,” said the treasurer.
Garside also noted that there have been talks that the state will reduce its budget. Currently, the district receives about $90 million from the state. Garside explained that even a 5 percent reduction takes $4 million away from the district.
“That decrease does affect our bottom line,” Garside remarked.
If the state does decrease its budget, the district may need to add 1.8-mills to the levy to make up that difference.
South-Western ranks 14 out of 16 in Franklin County as far as per pupil expenditures.
“That is the 14th lowest in the county,” said Garside.
The district spends approximately $9,336 per pupil. The state average is $9,939. This highest in the county is Columbus City Schools at $13,969 per pupil.
Garside also explained that the district ranks 12 out of 16 in the county’s tax rate. The district’s tax rate is currently 27.56. The highest is Upper Arlington at 42.96.
“We get kudos in trying to get the best bang for our buck,” said Garside.
Superintendent Dr. Bill Wise said if the district is not successful on the May ballot, they will need to make cuts. He also said that at this time the board is only pursuing an operating levy, but has not abandoned the need for new facilities.
The board will have to decide the millage rate soon. The deadline to file with the county’s board of elections is Feb. 19. The next board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at the district administration office.
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