School board members heard the preferences of about 40 community residents Monday as the finance committee presented three funding options.

School board members heard the preferences of about 40 community residents Monday as the finance committee presented three funding options.

During a Monday meeting of the New Albany-Plain Local Board of Education, committee presenters provided three preferred funding options to assist the board with ballot decisions.

Board members will look to residents for feedback during community forums slated for 11 a.m. to noon and 7 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 30, and 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 1.

The finance committee began work in February, studying funding options for a 20.7-mill operating levy that accounts for about 50 percent of district revenue and expires in 2009. Also on the committee's plate was a permanent improvement levy that also expires at the end of 2009 and a bond issue to alleviate overcrowding in the 2-5 elementary school.

About half of the committee was present for a vote earlier this month to narrow choices to two permanent property-tax options and an income tax. Two of the options include an additional 2.5-mill bond issue for the construction of a 5-6 school and an addition to the K-1 building.

Finance committee presenter Jeff Johnson told the board the group was influenced by "ballot fatigue" seen when the school district goes to voters every three years for operating money.

"We want to consider trying to eliminate the threat to 50 percent of revenue," he said.

The most preferred option from the finance committee is a 25-mill permanent property tax.

The second option is a 1.75-percent traditional school income tax and a 2.5-mill bond issue for a 5-6 building and K-1 addition.

The final option is a 25-mill permanent property tax and 2.5-mill bond issue.

Each option eliminates an $11-million carryover the district has built through a reduction in hiring. That carryover also has saved the district money by helping it attain a better credit rating and lower interest rates.

Although school board members have a few weeks to decide when to go to voters and what to put on the ballot, they had some questions for the finance committee.

Board member Mike Klein asked why the most preferred option did not include a bond issue to address overcrowding.

"There was concern of the millage level," committee presenter Brett Bradbury said.

Klein was also curious about whether an income tax would cover the soon-to-expire 2-mill permanent improvement levy.

"The school district would not need to go on the ballot for a permanent improvement renewal levy in 2009 if a school district passes a school district income tax and if the school district income tax continues to collect at the same rate of increases each year that it has collected in the past year as indicated by the Ohio Department of Taxation's past tax-collections report," district treasurer Brian Ramsay said.

Castle added that tax returns from New Albany increased by about 9 percent between 2000 and 2005, which would cover permanent improvements. If income tax decreases, however, the district would have to go back to voters with a permanent improvement levy.

School board members have a few weeks to make a funding decision - although there is a deadline on July 22 to gain state consent for a bond issue.

Board members are hoping to glean public input from the community through forums and telephone surveys expected to start this week.

"I encourage the public to come forward if they have thoughts, concerns, ideas," Klein said.

The forums will be at Mershad Hall in the arts center, 100 W. Dublin Granville. The board will meet for a work session at 6:30 p.m. July 8 at Mershad Hall and a board meeting July 28, when there may be a vote on a levy issue.