The Canal Winchester Times

Groveport Madison

Feb. 6 deadline looms for May ballot decision

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The Groveport Madison Board of Education is considering 12 possible levy scenarios as it wrestles with whether or not to place one of them on the ballot in May.

And time is short for making any decision: The deadline to file for the May ballot is Feb. 6.

On Jan. 10, the board took the first step toward placing an emergency levy before voters by passing a "resolution of necessity" asking the c's office to determine the millage amounts needed for the district to generate $3.5 million, $4.5 million, $5.5 million or $6.5 million in additional dollars over the course of three or five years.

The board is also considering the possibility of a continuing operating levy.

Because the board did not decide how long a levy would last, a separate resolution for each dollar amount had to be sent to the auditor's office.

Treasurer Anthony Swartz pointed out that even though voters did approve a substitute emergency levy last August, the district is receiving about the same amount from tax dollars as it did in 1996 because of cuts from the state, delinquent property taxes and the loss of the tangible personal property tax reimbursement.

"We either have to make a heck of a lot of cuts, raise more money, or both," Swartz said.

According to the five-year forecast presented to the Ohio Department of Education, the Groveport Madison district is anticipating a budget deficit of nearly $438,000 by June 30, 2013.

That deficit jumps to $4.7 million next school year and could reach $20.5 million by June 30, 2017.

Even if a levy is given the thumbs-up by voters this year, funds from it would not be available to the district until Jan. 1, 2014.

Last year, the passage of the levy meant the district did not have to make $8 million in cuts to balance its budget, but some reductions are likely this year.

Superintendent Bruce Hoover told the board he is reviewing how the district does business, the services it provides, and staffing.

He is expected to discuss some of what he envisions as a "new model" for the school system at the board's Jan. 24 work session. That meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the Administrative Office, 5940 Clyde Moore Drive in Groveport.

Hoover told the board that changes and cuts are a part of the model, and they would be permanent regardless of whether another levy passes.

"Our kids need opportunities. Our kids deserve opportunities," Hoover said. "We need to try to figure out ways to provide opportunities for our kids in a more cost-effective way."

Based on the levy options on the table, Swartz is projecting a $3.5-million levy would cost an additional $11.91 a month per $100,000 in home valuation, or approximately $143 a year. If the homeowner is 65 or older and receives the Homestead Exemption, the cost would be $8.94 more a month or $107.28 annually.

According to Swartz, a $4.5 million levy would cost an additional $183.82 a month per $100,000 in home valuation, or about $2,205 a year. That would increase to $224.67 monthly for a $5.5-million levy - $2,696 a year - and $265.52 per month or about $3,186 a year for a $6.5-million levy.

Those eligible for the Homestead Exemption would pay $11.49 a month or around $138 a year for a $4.5-million levy; $14.04 a month or $168.48 annually for a $5.5-million levy; and $16.59 a month or a little more than $199 a year for a $6.5-million levy.

Swartz provided the board with a summary sheet of the tax rates of 19 school districts in the area.

According to the information gleaned from the Franklin County Auditor's Office, the Groveport Madison district is next to last in Franklin County when it comes to the yearly millage it collects from taxes at 34.714857 mills; the Hamilton Local School District at 31.628777 mills is the lowest.

Residents in the Hilliard school district pay the most millage per year, according to the auditor's office, at 57.297762 mills.

In other business Jan. 10, the board elected Mary Tedrow as its new president and Nancy Gillespie as its vice president for 2013.

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