Canal Winchester school officials say communication will be key to passing the $6.2 million substitute emergency renewal levy that is on the May 7 ballot.

Treasurer Nick Roberts said the substitute emergency levy originally was approved in 2009 at 14.82 mills.

Roberts said increased property values over the last 10 years now make it possible for the school district to collect the same "fixed-sum taxes" and reduce the rate to 12.59 mills.

As a result, he said, the renewal levy means an average owner of a home valued at $150,000 still would pay about $578 per year in taxes.

Funds from the levy support about 13.5 percent of the district's operating budget, Roberts said.

If the levy does not pass, he said the district would have an unbalanced budget in fiscal year 2020 and would deplete its cash reserves by fiscal year 2024.

"We would obviously have to make significant changes to our budget if we were to lose $6.2 million from the operating budget," Roberts said.

Even though it is a renewal levy, the treasurer said the ballot language does not indicate that it is a continuation of an existing levy.

Therefore, Roberts and Superintendent Jim Sotlar said it is important for the district to get the word out to the public about the need for the levy.

"No levy is easy to pass, not even a renewal, so we must do a great job communicating to our taxpayers that this levy is a renewal -- meaning no new taxes," Sotlar said. "Also, by approving the renewal, we save taxpayers 12.5 percent with state reductions -- rollbacks -- and if it passes, it will be 15 years without asking for any new operating money."

Three community meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 13, April 4 and April 23 at Canal Winchester High School, where officials will discuss the levy. The district also is planning some small group meetings, literature drops and the distribution of pro-levy signs.

Sotlar said the district "must prepare every student for their future," so the levy is vital for their success.

"The school district belongs to our community and with that, we are happy to provide information and answers to any questions you may have," Sotlar said.

The superintendent said people with questions may set up a time to speak with district representatives by calling the office at 837-4533 or by sending an email to Roberts at nroberts@cwls.us.

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