October 23, 2014

Elyria
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ELYRIA SCHOOLS

Levy renewal pays bills for Elyria district

Issue 29
What: A 7.96-mill renewal levy for Elyria Schools
Duration: Five years
How much it would raise: About $8.2 million a year, which represents about 12.5 percent of the district’s general fund budget
Purpose: Operating funds and paying the bills in the district
Cost: $266 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home

Lisa Roberson
The Chronicle-Telegram

ELYRIA — Keeping the lights on, paying teachers’ salaries and buying books — passage of Issue 29, the 7.96-mill renewal levy for Elyria Schools, is all about paying the bills.

The renewal is important to the district’s future, Superintendent Paul Rigda said.

“This renewal is critical to our future because it represents a large part of our budget. It literally pays the bills,” he said. “It doesn’t fund anything new. It simply allows us to pay for things we have already been paying for.”

And it doesn’t pay for anything to do with the new high school.

That $70 million project is funded by the district’s capital improvement bond. Although operating funds and capital improvement funds are taxpayer dollars coming from the same source, they are not interchangeable once they get into the hands of school officials.

The money voters approved to build the high school cannot be used for books, supplies or salaries. And the money voters approve to operate the district cannot pay for the new building being constructed alongside the existing high school on Middle Avenue.

“I know it may be hard for some residents to understand that, because they just pay one bill when they pay their property tax, but by law we can’t swap pots of money to suit our needs,” Rigda said.

The renewal levy is a combination of two operating levies that voters passed in 1987 and 2005. Since acquiring the money, Rigda said the district has worked very hard to stay fiscally sound.

“We closed four schools and eliminated 130 positions over two years,” he said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.