The Marysville Exempted Village School District has been a "good steward" of its operating revenues while dealing with increasing enrollment, changes in state funding and recent levy failures, Superintendent Larry Zimmerman told ThisWeek.

The Marysville Exempted Village School District has been a "good steward" of its operating revenues while dealing with increasing enrollment, changes in state funding and recent levy failures, Superintendent Larry Zimmerman told ThisWeek.

Three consecutive levy defeats have resulted in more than $4-million in budget cuts in the past two years. Zimmerman acknowledged growth has slowed in recent years, but said that changes in the state's tax code -- specifically the elimination of the personal tangible property tax -- have pinched the district's projected revenues.

The board of education has placed two separate levies on the November ballot -- a 5-mill replacement levy and a new 4-mill levy.

If both issues pass, the district would realize about $3.2-million in additional revenue and allow for the reinstatement of some of the cuts. Approval of the replacement levy and defeat of the new levy will result in an additional $1.7-million in cuts.

The board recently acted on and publicized lists for both scenarios.

Zimmerman said the board acted in advance to provide information on which programs and services would be reinstated if both levies pass and what would be cut if the new levy fails because "that's what (residents) need to know -- this is what happens if you vote 'yes,' this is what happens if you vote 'no.' "

He said any list of cuts is problematic because "what's acceptable to one person isn't acceptable to someone else."

Zimmerman explained that, in addition to program cuts, past cuts included about 40 staff members. Teachers also agreed last year to no base salary increase and to pick up an additional portion of their benefits package, saving the district about $1-million, Zimmerman said.

"My fear is we're going to start losing the staff we have," he said. "Our kids deserve the best teachers. We have an excellent group of people, but we have to acknowledge that they could go somewhere else if they could make more money."

"We've never paid top dollar in our region," he added, "but we need to be in the marketplace."

Because the cost of running the district is going up, Zimmerman said, both issues are needed to avoid further budget cuts.

Defeat of both issues would result in "massive" cuts, Zimmerman said.

"It (would be) fiscally responsible to start saving and reducing now," Zimmerman said, adding that the Ohio Department of Education requires the district to provide evidence of a balanced budget over five years.

He said the district runs a variety of projections using a variety of assumptions, including the replacement of a 6.56-mill levy set to expire next year. He said the inability to pass a levy now means the state will look less favorably on assumptions of additional levies in any five-year projection.

"The state will judge us as though those don't exist," he said.

Zimmerman said the district has passed only one new-millage levy in the past 15 years -- all others approved over that time span have been renewals of previous levies.

Additionally, because of Ohio's rollback law, the district is currently operating on 19.68 mills, up less than 1 mill from the 18.7 mills allowed for the district when it was organized in its current form in 1968.