Licking County News

Southwest Licking board will seek five-year operating levy

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Southwest Licking school board members on July 17 voted 4-1 to place a five-year, substitute renewal emergency operating levy on the November ballot.

Board member Daniel Bell voted against the substitute levy.

The county auditor's office has yet to determine the levy's millage, but board members agreed the levy would collect the same amount of the existing levy, which is $4,525,000.

Brad Cottrell, Licking County's chief deputy auditor, said Southwest Licking's existing operating levy is 7.87 mills and costs homeowners $241.02 per year per $100,000 of assessed property valuation.

Even though a millage rate hasn't been established for the substitute levy, Cottrell said, it should be similar to the current operating levy, which expires this year and will be collected through 2015.

However, because the new levy would be a substitute levy, it could collect more revenue as new construction occurs, according to district officials.

Superintendent Robert Jennell said he didn't have exact figures, but he's aware that several subdivisions are planning to add new homes.

"There is growth," Jennell said, "but it doesn't count until they're built."

Created as a levy option by the state auditor's office in 2008, a substitute levy would not raise taxes but would allow the district to collect additional income from new developments.

Board members debated the length of the levy before arriving at five years.

Board President Don Huber said he wasn't in favor of a permanent levy.

"That raises a red flag for many people," Huber said.

Board member Dave Engel suggested a 10-year levy because board members are considering placing a bond issue for facility upgrades on the ballot within the next several years.

With a five-year operating levy, the administration could seem to be in a continual levy campaign mode, Engel said.

A 10-year operating levy would give administrators more time to concentrate on administrating the district, he said, as opposed to collecting more funding.

However, five years is a long time, Bell said, and he didn't see that much of a time crunch between ballot issues.

Huber and board Vice President Debra Moore agreed and all three voted against a 10-year levy.

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