November 28, 2014

Mostly cloudy

Keystone Schools to seek 5.95-mill new levy

LAGRANGE — The Keystone school board weighed three tax levy options before board members approved a resolution Monday night to place an additional 5.95-mill operating levy on the Nov. 4 ballot.

A 5.95-mill levy would generate about $1.4 million annually for the district for a continuing period of time. According to information provided by the Lorain County Auditor’s Office, it would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $17.35 a month in taxes.

The school board opted at its July 2 meeting to place three separate resolutions for 5.95 mills, 6.95 mills and 7.95 mills before the Lorain County auditor to determine the best option for the district.

Superintendent Jay Arbaugh said the decision to go with a 5.95-mill levy was based on the results of a poll of nearly 500 community members who overwhelmingly said they would prefer a modest tax increase to more cuts.

“This is the lowest we can ask for and still have a positive financial outlook,” Arbaugh said. “I think we’ve listened to the community via the survey and we’ve acted accordingly.”

Board member Renee Mezera echoed Arbaugh’s sentiments.

“We need to go with the bare minimum and do the best that we can to keep what we have,” Mezera said.

School treasurer Susan Bement said the district’s expenses this year exceeded revenue by about $1.5 million. According to Arbaugh, $750,000 in cuts have already been made to next year’s budget, mainly by not replacing five retiring teachers, cutting freshman sports and middle school softball, eliminating one paraprofessional special education position and one part-time custodian, reducing secretarial support staff and increasing pay-to-play and transportation fees.

Arbaugh said if the levy fails, the district will look to make another $1 million in cuts starting in January by eliminating a dozen teaching positions, two security monitor positions, reducing the hours of the special education secretary, eliminating the school resource officer and other paraprofessional positions, reducing nursing services by 50 percent and eliminating summer school intervention programs.

Board member Dennis Walter said passage is vital, and he hopes the community supports the board’s decision.

“If we don’t pass this levy, we’ve dug ourselves another three feet into the ground and it’s going to be a lot harder to get back up to ground level again,” Walter said. “We’ll really have to do some serious cutting if we don’t pass this.”

The district last passed an 8-mill operating levy in 1994, which failed to renew at the polls in 2001. Keystone failed to pass a 5.95-mill levy this year in May.

Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or Follow him on Twitter @JonWysochanski. 

  • Sis Delish

    Time to educate the educators about economics, from the Taxpayer’s point-of-view.

    Standby for the emotional plea of “it’s all about the children”.

    Prepare to Vote No, No, No, No, Nooo.

    The above are the ABC’s of every 2014 School Tax Increase. It’s OK to keep your hard-earned cash for your own use.

    • SniperFire

      “it’s all about the children”

      When the truth is, it is all about teacher and administrator wage and benefits.

  • Pablo Jones

    Of all those cuts how many were pay cuts?

  • Summer Smart

    $208.20 additional per year for $100,000 home, plus the $70 for the library, plus whatever the police levy is, plus the 1.5% income tax (in the village) plus, plus, plus……what percentage of your house value are you paying in taxes? Many of us moved to the country because the city taxes were too high and now we are getting to be just as high. The only thing we are missing are the stores and jobs. Sounds like a losing proposition to me.

    • Summer Smart

      Of that $750 k cut, does this include building costs by chance? Just curious.

      • SniperFire

        They never are really going to tell you where the money goes. If they did, you would be outraged. Remember that upwards of 90% of a school budget goes to salary and benefits.

        • Kit

          I know where the tax increase goes……. right off the bat everyone gets a raise if a tax levy passes. Right on down to the janitors. My dad used to work for the HS as a hall monitor and he’d complain that if the levy didn’t pass, they wouldn’t get their raises. It used to make my blood boil. Total BS.

  • onesears

    And remember.. Its still unconstitutional to fund schools with tax levies in Ohio. Better get with the program Ohio legislators. You were supposed to fix that problem years ago

    • luvmytoaster

      Anything else that was unconstitutional would have been stopped by now, but not school funding….what a sham!

    • Sue Lawson

      Sadly I don’t see that happening. There will be many letters to editor in support of this levy. I wish these letter writers would write to the governor.

  • LorainCountyVoter

    I also hope everyone remembers that a lot of this is due to Governor Kasich. He made everybody believe that he cut your state taxes. He did alright, he put the burden on local government which is forcing these schools to put these levies on. So when you vote down the school levy, make sure you don’t vote for Kasich either.

    • Sis Delish

      Here we go… pointing fingers.

      Any chance that the Education Establishment will ever acknowledge that doing more with less is a viable approach?

    • SniperFire

      ‘He did alright, he put the burden on local government which is forcing these schools to put these levies on. ‘

      You have no idea what you are talking about.

      ‘Next year, the State of Ohio will spend more on primary and secondary education than at any point in state history. FY 2015, State General Revenue Fund and Lottery Profit spending for primary and secondary education will exceed FY 2010 funding levels by $1.3 billion, or 17.8 percent. Even including one time federal-stimulus funding, TPP/KwH reimbursements, and property tax relief, FY 2015 funding levels will exceed FY 2010 funding levels by $317.8 million, or 3.3 percent.’

      But just keep repeating the gurge you have been told.

    • Pablo Jones

      How much state funding was cut? How much in school cuts have been made? How much will this levy generate?

      They cut $750,000 they want to generate $1.4 million more. Why do they need $2 million dollars more a year?

      Keystone has fewer students now than they did a few years back. Their total funding is at the same amount now as it was a 2 years ago.

      Maybe because the teachers are getting a 2% pay raise each year and pay almost nothing on their $14,000 insurance premium.

    • Simon Jester

      Heaven forbid municipalities actually pay for the stuff they want…

  • Simon Jester

    So… They got their new school, and now they want MORE money.

    Why does that sound familiar?

    Vote no. Every time.