Tri-Village News

Fall levy already on minds of school board members

Options on the table range from 3.9 to 6.9 mills

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Although it will be summer before a final decision is made, the Grandview school board has begun to discuss whether to place a property-tax levy on the November ballot.

The last district levy was approved by voters in November 2010. It was a combined 5.9-mill measure composed of a three-year, 3.9-mill component for operating funds and a continuing 2.9-mill component for permanent improvements and classroom technology updates.

The district has been able to stretch the operating levy to cover a fourth year.

On Feb. 4, Treasurer Tammy Rizzo presented the board with an overview of the district's financial forecast and projections of how levies of various sizes would impact revenue.

The current forecast shows the district will maintain a decreasing budget surplus the next two years, but will have a $137,000 deficit at the end of fiscal year 2016, Rizzo said.

School districts' fiscal years run from July 1 through June 30, so fiscal 2016 would end June 30, 2016.

Without a levy, the deficit would grow to $2.965 million in fiscal 2017 and nearly $6.5 million in fiscal 2018, Rizzo said.

Rizzo gave projections on the budget impact of operating levies totaling 3.9, 4.9, 5.9 and 6.9 mills.

The smallest levy would keep the district in the black only through fiscal 2016.

Both a 4.9-mill and 5.9-mill levy would maintain a positive balance through fiscal 2016, but the district would see deficits of $1.8 million and $867,546, respectively, in fiscal 2018.

A 6.9-mill levy would maintain budget surpluses throughout the period, with a projected $112,454 surplus for fiscal 2018, Rizzo said.

A 3.9-mill levy would increase property taxes by $136.50 annually per $100,000 in home value, she said. A 6.9-mill measure would cost $241.50 annually for each $100,000 in home value.

Grandview ranks 13th among the 16 Franklin County school districts in annual property-tax payments.

Even if a 6.9-mill levy was approved by voters, Grandview still would rank in the bottom half, Superintendent Ed O'Reilly said.

That would be assuming no other school district successfully goes to the ballot for a tax increase this year, board member Jesse Truett said.

An important message of any levy campaign should be the high-quality education Grandview students receive for a comparatively low cost to the community, Truett said.

The filing deadline to go on the November ballot is in early August, Rizzo said, but the board shouldn't wait until the last minute to make a decision.

Early voting means a levy campaign has to get started even earlier than it used to, O'Reilly said.

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