New Albany voters likely will see a 24.4-mill continuing property tax levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.

New Albany voters likely will see a 24.4-mill continuing property tax levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The school board voted unanimously Monday night to submit the levy amount to the auditor's office for review. Board member Mark Ryan was not in attendance but expressed his agreement through a statement to council members.

Superintendent Steve Castle said the November levy would represent a 3.87-mill increase to the current 20.7-mill levy that expires in December 2009.

If approved, the issue would cost about $747 per $100,000 of assessed property value annually, providing the district with an 18.85-percent increase in revenue. Residents currently pay about $634 per $100,000 of assessed property value. The 24.4-mill levy would amount to an increase of less than $120 per year.

"I hope our community sees the 3.78-mill increase is worth it," Castle said.

Board member Peter Horvath said council came to a compromise with the 24.4-mill levy.

"We were provided three proposals, and we explored them in depth," he said. "Why ask for 25 (mills) when we know we only need 24.4?"

The three proposals involved adding a 25-mill continuing property tax levy with or without a 2.5-mill bond issue to pay for a new building for the fifth and six grades, as well as an addition to the kindergarten and first-grade building. Council members also discussed the idea of putting a 20.7-mill tax levy back on the ballot as a continuing levy.

Board president Diane Goedeking said board members worked together in four work sessions to resolve this issue. They also heard from community members through surveys and committees, as well as from hired consultants.

"Because of the economic conditions at this time, we have felt that the operating expense was much more critical," Goedeking said.

Board member Mike Klein, who has been in support of attaching a bond issue to build a new school to the levy, said he understands the financial limitations.

"I'm comfortable with the fact of going with an operating levy this November," he said.

The district also is a partner in the new Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts and likely will hold some classes in that building to alleviate overcrowding in the schools.

Mary McMartin, a New Albany resident and parent of two teen sons, said she thinks the board should have chosen to renew the 20.7-mill levy that was passed in 2006.

"I think there is a lot of animosity in the community," she said. "Coming back and asking for a higher millage is a mistake. I think that the community and myself will be a lot more receptive in coming back with the same continuing levy."

Bill Resch, who has lived in the community for 40 years, said he has worked on 25 levies in the village. He said he supported the 25-mill levy option because quality of education should be the No. 1 priority.

"The state of Ohio has given us the charge to handle every student that comes to the school door steps," he said. "We are going to have to educate them."

Despite the board's decision to go with a 24.4-mill continuing levy, McMartin and Resch said they would support the campaign.

"Let's all come together for our kids," Resch said.

Castle, who said the district anticipates about 465 new students over the next three years, said passing the November levy is vital.

"It's time to come together to unify our community and get this passed for the youth and children of the community," Castle said. "Let the campaign begin."