About $10-million will be permanently cut from the budget of the Hilliard City School District if an operating levy does not pass in November.

About $10-million will be permanently cut from the budget of the Hilliard City School District if an operating levy does not pass in November.

Superintendent Dale McVey said that the millage for the operating levy has not been determined, but it will be discussed by the school board members when they meet on Aug. 4 in the annex located behind the district's administration office building.

Spending reductions and millage are two separate issues, according to McVey, and both were the topic of a "Community Conversations" meeting held in the annex on July 23.

The purpose of the meeting was to solicit public input -- coupled with a survey currently being conducted -- before board members consider the millage scenarios and what they mean for the health of the district.

Board members will also get a look at the face of proposed cuts.

After the board has had a chance to digest the information about millage for a levy and cuts if the levy fails, McVey said, the board is expected to return on Aug. 11 to take action on the first of two necessary resolutions in order to place a measure on the ballot.

Passage of a second and final resolution is expected to occur on Aug. 18.

McVey promised about 150 people congregated for the "Community Conversations" that the millage proposed in November will be lower than the 9.5 mills sought last March.

The voters were heard, he said, when they turned down the operating levy last spring.

Treasurer Brian Wilson was asked to put a dollar figure on the millage scenarios.

A 6.9-mill operating levy requires a resident of a $100,000 home to pay an additional $211 a year. A 7.9-mill operating levy will cost $242 more per year and an 8.9-mill operating levy means taxpayers pay an additional $273 per year.

The district is looking at a range of $211 to $273 more in taxes per $100,000 valuation annually.

Jane Hartman, a resident of the community for the past 49 years and the mother of a teacher, said tax increases are going to force retired people out of their homes.

"We got a break from the government last year to roll back our property taxes," she said, explaining that she cannot afford levy increases.

Hartman, who works at the polls and loves the school district, said she does not even talk to her daughter about ballot issues anymore.

"I see her point, because people are losing their jobs," she said. "I've been there, I lost my job. I had to survive."

She wanted to know why 38 teachers were cut from the elementary schools when fulltime librarians could go. Teachers used to take care of the library, she said.

"You can't keep putting this on the taxpayers, especially the retired ones," said Hartman. "We should not have to worry about moving, because we can't afford the taxes in our school system."

Another resident, who failed to identify herself, concurred.

"I am a senior and God bless this governor for doing what he did for the seniors," she said, as Gov. Ted Strickland sat in the back of the room. "But if this levy passes I'm going to be right back where I started from."

McVey said Strickland has promised to roll out a 2009 plan to fix school funding.

Strickland, he said, will not talk about school funding changes at the state level until he talks about reform.

"School funding, I would suggest, is certainly at a crisis level in this district," said McVey, "and I would suggest also at a crisis level in the state of Ohio."

The superintendent said he is part of the Alliance that works with the legislative leaders on a regular basis, trying to get school funding changed.

In the meantime, McVey said, schools are still faced with turning to the taxpayers.

Resident Dave Frey said he has never seen a levy he likes.

Frey said he voted against the building campaign and the operating levy last March.

"I didn't see one cut out of the $4.5-million that keeps me awake at night," he said, "but I'll tell you one thing when we look at the next set of cuts even I, the King of Levy Haters, can look at it and say 'Listen this next cut is going to cut into the lean muscle.'" Resident Crystal Allen, who worked on the levy campaign committee in 1999-2000, became aware at the time that the district has the lowest administration costs per pupil.

Rob Healy, a resident and parent of children in the district, said he moved into the area eight years ago. Since that time, he said, his taxes have jumped from $2,400 to $4,000.

"We haven't seen percentage wise our home income raising at that level," he said. "Everybody wants a larger pot of the smaller growing home income. And I know we're not the only ones."

Proposals for stopping field trips and implementing the pay to participate policies were proposed by some residents like Cynthia Vermillion and Jill Caton.

McVey said options, such as eliminating high school busing, field trips and extracurricular activities and closing buildings, will be presented to the board for cuts if the levy fails, but the board makes the final decision.

Resident Sandy Vidosh, a parent and resident, reminded others that the students are the future of tomorrow.

"Regardless if you are a senior, regardless if you're retired, what your situation is, we're all suffering, we're all having to make cutbacks, we're all in one way or another procuring or whatever we're doing to make ends meet" she said. "But our children, I think, we are forgetting."

She said her family moved into the district because of its schools.

McVey thanked the residents for participating in the "Community Conversations" and asked them to share what they learned with others.

"You took the first step, you showed up to share your opinion, you showed up to hear other people's thoughts, other people's ideas and that is incredibly important to our democratic process," he said, acknowledging that he knows not everyone is sold on the idea of passing a levy.