NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The North Ridgeville School Board is expected to OK putting two tax levies on the November ballot at a special meeting Wednesday.
School officials say both levies are needed to stave off serious financial headaches and cutbacks.
Voters will be asked to approve a 1.9-mill, 10-year emergency operating levy that would raise about
$1.3 million a year. They also will be asked to renew a 3.7-mill, 10-year emergency operating levy that generates about $2.7 million a year and is due to expire in 2010.
Both are critical in keeping the district in the black over the next five years, according to Superintendent Craig Phillips.
“If we’re not successful come November, we would be looking at dramatically curtailing spending and programs,’’ Phillips said.
“We would have to make some difficult decisions during the winter months.”
The district would face severe financial difficulties by the end of the 2011-12 school year without new money.
At the end of the district’s last fiscal year June 30, the school district was $1.17 million in the red.
Since state law prohibits school systems from operating at a deficit, the sum was covered with money from operating reserves.
The district’s anticipated operating budget for the 2009-10 school year is expected to be approximately $30 million.
Phillips said the $1.3 million generated by the new, 1.9-mill levy is vital to maintaining services and supplies as the city grows and enrollment rises.
“We’ve done an awesome job of stretching dollars,” Phillips said. “But we can’t stretch them anymore.”
He cited an average of $350,000 the district must spend to replace math, science or history textbooks every five years as an example of the rising costs.
The 1.9-mill levy will cost the owner of $100,000 home $58.19 annually in new taxes. The owner of a house valued at $200,000 would pay
$116.78 a year, according to school Treasurer Biagio Sidoti.
Residents have not approved new operating money for the schools since 1995. In the intervening
14 years, thousands of new homes have been built in town. Averaging 100 new students a year, total enrollment now stands at approximately 3,950.
The board opted to wait and ask for money in November to avoid having to compete with any other city issues, such as a library renewal and paramedic levy, both of which appeared — and passed — on the May ballot.
School officials were bolstered in their decision to wait till the fall ballot by feedback that included a survey which indicated public support for a renewal and new millage.
The decision to seek 10-year terms for both tax levies came after board members concluded odds for success might be improved if the public was voting on tax issues less often.
Board member Robin Hrabik said during an earlier discussion that a 10-year issue might dispel longstanding public perceptions “that we’re always out there asking for something.”
Recent changes in state regulations allowed school districts to double the terms of emergency levy renewals from five to 10 years.
The district plans to begin stumping for both levies at this weekend’s Corn Festival, Phillips said.
“We’ll start to lay the groundwork with lots of conversations with people,” Phillips said. “It’s going to be a busy fall.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com