In the wake of voters rejecting the Groveport Madison Local School District's combined levy and bond issue May 7, Superintendent Garilee Ogden has recommended pursuing a 6.68-mill renewal levy in November.

The levy, which was renewed most recently in May 2014, expires Dec. 31.

At a special meeting June 26, the school board approved a motion to submit a declaration of necessity to the Franklin County Auditor's Office for a 6.68-mill renewal levy. The auditor's office will calculate how much money the renewal levy would raise for the district.

The board on Wednesday, July 10, likely will vote on whether to go on the Nov. 5 ballot with the renewal levy, as levy requests must be submitted to the Franklin County Board of Elections 90 days before the election. According to the elections board's website, the filing deadline is 4 p.m. Aug. 7.

In May, the district sought voters' approval of a 6.1-mill continuing levy, which would have been permanent. It was paired with a 37-year, $83.6 million bond issue, which was sought to fund three new elementary schools and a middle school.The bond issue, at 4.72 mills, would have cost $165.20 annually per $100,000 of residential property value.

The failure of the combined levy and bond issue, according to Ogden, had more to do with the bond issue than the creation of a permanent operating levy.

"Following the defeat of Issue 5 on May 7, we talked to many residents to find out their concerns and why they chose not to support the combined levy and bond-issue request," she said. "What we heard time and again was that they would have voted yes for a renewal of the 6.68-(mill) operating levy, but they just weren't ready to support the construction of the new schools," she said.

The district will continue to generate tax revenue from the 2014 levy until the end of the year. However, because of state laws regarding home values and millage amounts, derived from House Bill 920, as property values rise, millage amounts on most levies decrease. The current levy has an effective rate of 5.87 mills, according to Robert L. Caldwell, deputy auditor and chief financial officer for the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

"Operating levies provide the necessary funds to pay for the day-to-day operations of the school district," said Jeff Warner, the district's communications director. "Examples of these expenses include salaries and benefits, classroom materials and supplies, utilities, fuel, equipment, facilities maintenance and grounds care, student technology, safety and security, etc."

Without an operating levy in place, the district stands to lose $2.8 million in tax revenue in 2019 and $5.6 million each year afterward, although these figures could vary slightly, depending on the auditor's evaluation, according to Ogden.

"The loss of these funds will have a devastating impact on the district, potentially even erasing much of what has been accomplished over the past five years," Ogden said.

Should district voters reject the renewal levy that likely will appear on the November ballot, it is possible cuts would have to be made to some portion of the district's operating budget. In their current position, school officials have not considered the specifics of what they would remove, Warner said.

"It's not a discussion we've had yet," Warner said.

Although potential cuts have not been established, he said, the district has been proactive in trimming its operating costs.

"Right now, we're looking into things that are in our budget, but we haven't purchased yet," Warner said. "We've already cut about $700,000 since May."

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