The Canal Winchester Times

Canal Winchester

Voters will decide substitute school levy in May ballot

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Canal Winchester voters will be going to the polls May 6 to decide the fate of a five-year, $5.83-million substitute school levy.

At its Jan. 13 meeting, the Canal Winchester Board of Education unanimously voted to place the levy on the ballot. It will not raise taxes but will allow the district to collect additional income from new development.

"We know that this district, in order to keep moving forward, is going to need that $5.83 million, whether it's a five-year, seven-year or continuing levy," Superintendent Jim Sotlar said. "And sometime in the future -- and I don't know when -- we'll probably need new money; most school districts will."

If approved, the substitute levy will cost $433 per $100,000 of home valuation -- the same amount property owners pay now. It would replace an emergency levy that is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.

While the three options under consideration all sought the same dollar amount, the other two proposals would have been in effect for either seven years or permanently, if they were approved.

After discussing the merits and disadvantages of each option sent to the Franklin County Auditor's Office in December to be certified, board member Matt Krueger recommended the board proceed with the five-year option because of the uncertainty of the district's finances beyond that period of time and as a means of being responsible for taxpayers' money.

"My concern with the continuing (levy) is that we will have to come back at some point, probably, for new monies and it always looks as if we gave you this much, now you're coming back for a little bit more," Krueger said.

He said the five-year levy "gives us a checks and balances that we can re-examine in five or seven years and look at to make sure that we are doing what is right to continue as well."

The district's five-year financial forecast indicates that without renewing the emergency levy, Canal Winchester schools face a $5.3-million deficit by June 30, 2017, and a $13.9-million deficit by June 30, 2018.

If the current emergency levy expires without being renewed, the district would no longer be able to take advantage of having the state continue to pay a 12.5-percent rollback, according to Treasurer Joyce Boyer.

As a result, Boyer said, taxpayers would have to pay the full $5.83 million instead of the approximately $5,101,250 that they are currently paying, if a levy is sought after the current one expires.

The filing date to place the issue on the May ballot is Feb. 5.

In other business Jan. 13, the board chose Bob Toledo as its new president and Krueger as its new vice president.

Sotlar also reviewed the school calendar for the 2014-2015 school year. While it will closely resemble the current calendar, districts will be required to report to the state how many hours they are in session as opposed to how many days.

Sotlar said since the Canal Winchester district already exceeds the number of hours required in a school year, there should be no problem with the new reporting system.

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