The Canal Winchester Times

Canal Winchester schools

Six options laid out for future district levy

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The Canal Winchester Board of Education met in special session Saturday, Nov. 16, to consider six possible levy scenarios but is not expected to decide until December how to proceed.

Since the district's $5.8-million emergency levy expires Dec. 31, 2014, Superintendent Jim Sotlar told the board last month that now is the time to lay the groundwork for a levy request.

If the board decides to place a levy on the spring ballot, it must pass two resolutions to meet the Feb. 5 filing deadline.

Treasurer Joyce Boyer summarized the five-year financial forecast Nov. 16. The forecast indicates that without a renewal of the emergency levy, the school district faces a $5.3-million deficit by June 30, 2017, and a $13.9-million deficit by June 30, 2018.

That means the first option -- to just let the emergency levy expire -- is not viable, said Sotlar, who added an emergency renewal levy is needed.

"The purpose of the emergency renewal levy is to further enhance our commitment to quality schools and provide financial stability without increasing school district taxes," he said.

The second option would be a renewal of the current $5.83-million emergency levy in 2014. If that were to happen, Boyer said the district would have a positive cash balance of $5.7 million by June 30, 2018.

The third option would reduce the current emergency levy by $1 million to bring in $4.83 million for Canal Winchester schools.

"With the renewal of the emergency levy at this reduced amount, the school district anticipates a positive cash balance of only $923,830 as of June 30, 2018," Boyer said.

The fourth option would reduce the current emergency levy by $2 million to generate about $3.83 million for the district.

However, this scenario, if approved, would mean the district would have a positive cash balance only through June 30, 2017. By the end of June 2018, Boyer said, the district budget would be in the red by $3.86 million.

Boyer also factored in a scenario to show the board what would happen if the levy expires in 2014 and a new levy is not passed until 2015.

With that option, there are no tax collections from a renewal levy in 2015 and none are received until calendar year 2016.

Because of changes in state law, a year without taxes from the emergency renewal levy could mean that taxpayers would actually pay more for their schools, because they would not receive tax credits from the state, Boyer said.

Those tax credits can be used only if existing levies are renewed.

"The taxes on any new levy passed during 2015 would not be collected until calendar year 2016," she said. "Also, the district would no longer have the ability to renew the levy and take advantage of the state continuing to pay the 12.5-percent rollback.

"This means that the taxpayers would have to pay the full $5.83 million instead of the approximate $5,101,250 that they are currently paying," she added.

This option would produce a positive cash balance of $106,000 by June 30, 2018.

The final option would be to allow the emergency levy to expire Dec. 31, 2014, receive no collections from a levy in 2015, and pass an $8-million emergency levy in 2015.

"An emergency levy in the amount of $8 million would be needed to come close to the $5,710,592 June 30, 2018, year-end cash balance listed on the financial forecast," Boyer said. "This is an increase of 37.2 percent above the $5.83 million that is collected annually for the current emergency levy."

Board members also discussed whether to change the number of years a levy is in effect but took no vote.

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