Putting a levy before voters in the Marysville Exempted Village School District isn't a matter of if, but when, according to Treasurer Cindy Ritter.

Putting a levy before voters in the Marysville Exempted Village School District isn't a matter of if, but when, according to Treasurer Cindy Ritter.

"We need to go on the ballot this year," Ritter said during the school board meeting on Thursday, April 19.

The board has to get a resolution to the Union County Board of Elections by Aug. 8 if it wants to get a levy on the November ballot.

Members have a big decision to make to try to avoid a serious budget deficit, she said.

Interim Superintendent Bill Reimer and Ritter have been in discussions with the board and presented members with options to try to bypass what could be a major budget deficit in the next few years. Projections show a $1.4-million deficit in fiscal year 2012. That leaves a budget balance at the end of June of $3 million.

The numbers continue to go down from there, she said.

"We've lost money in what we're receiving from the state overall, which we have no control over," Ritter said.

"Many issues that are virtually out of the district's control have, in fact, cut funds that we normally would have gotten," Reimer said

He gave the board four options in trying to anticipate a path for the district to follow over the next five years.

"We started with a premise that said we don't want to do any harm to the school system. We think there's a quality level that needs to be maintained," he said.

Ultimately, Reimer said, it is up to the residents to decide whether to protect the integrity of the district but the four options try to stay true to district standards and manage the funds responsibly.

Option one includes using general operating fund money to replace all of the teachers from the 2012 buyout and all the employees from the current buyout proposal. It also includes adding two new teaching staff members in 2013. It requires the district use permanent improvement funds to supplement the bond retirement fund.

That option leaves the district with $925,176 at the end of fiscal year 2013; the deficit drops to $9.6 million in fiscal year 2016.

Option two uses the general operating fund to replace all of the staff from the 2012 buyouts and add two employees in 2013. It also adds $40,000 for project work and includes a possible performance pay increase for the teaching staff at roughly 2 percent in fiscal years 2014, 2015, and 2016. It also uses permanent improvement funds to supplement the bond retirement fund. That option leaves the district with $885,176 at the end of year 2013 and a $14.1-million deficit by fiscal year 2016.

Option three is the same as option two but adds one additional certificated staff member in fiscal year 2014 and another in fiscal year 2016. The district would have $885,176 at the end of year 2013 but a $14.2-million deficit by fiscal year 2016.

The final option includes everything from the other options and adds two additional staff members in 2015. That option leaves the district with $885,176 at the end of fiscal year 2013 and a $14.4-million deficit by fiscal year 2016.

Ritter said by their calculations, a 6-mill levy would give the district a positive balance at the end of fiscal year 2016 of $370,613.

A new levy must be in addition to renewing a current 5-mill levy and a 4-mill levy that each began in 2009 and run through 2013, and a 6.56-mill levy that began in 2010 and runs through 2014, according to Reimer.

"We have to have all of it," he said. "We have to have all three of the renewals and we have to have additional money. Or the other option is we make dramatic cuts to meet the deficits we see coming."

Reimer pointed out to the board that there is a major effort under way to find cost savings in every place possible. He said he has calculated savings of more than $5 million.

According to Ritter, the adjustments include changing the district's dental insurance plan in 2010 to save $28,000. Transportation cuts in 2011 saved the district $70,320 annually. A series of agreements in utilities is saving $165,000 a year and switching audit firms and changing banks is saving $12,500 a year.

In addition, since 2005 changes in the Workers' Compensation program have decreased rates, saving the district $320,785 in 2012.

"The people need to know a strong effort has been made to pay attention and operate in a fiscally responsible way," he said.