The Archbold Area School Board has called a special meeting for 6 pm, today, Wednesday, to take the first step on a property tax levy renewal.
Stated purpose for the meeting is “to take necessary action to file a resolution with the county auditor for renewal of the emergency levy.”
David Deskins, district superintendent, said the board has not made a firm decision on the type or size of levy.
“They (board members) wanted a little more time” before making a decision, Deskins said.
He said board members wanted to have the special meeting notice language correct if they decide to go with a renewal of the current $1.1- million emergency levy.
In 2006, school district voters approved a $1.1-million emergency tax levy for the school district. As an emergency levy, the board sets the dollar amount, rather than a particular millage.
If they are to place a levy on the May ballot, they must have the necessary documents filed by 4 pm, Wednesday, Feb. 2. Jan. 12 Meeting
The board held a special work session meeting to discuss the levy on Wednesday, Jan. 12.
During the meeting, Deskins said board members spent time talking about the school district’s current fi- nancial picture, and that the district’s current $1.1-million emergency levy will expire at the end of this year. If it expires, it will leave a $1.1-mil- lion hole in the school budget.
Board members discussed several possibilities, including reducing or increasing the current levy, further reducing school expenses, and the possibility of an income tax rather than a property tax levy.
He said the board looked closely at the district’s current five-year financial forecast.
“They (board members) agreed trying to plan ahead five years is difficult to do in this economy,” he said.
In the short term, Deskins said if the voters renew the current $1.1-million levy, the board will likely have to return to voters two years from now, in 2013, for additional operating money. Millage May Change
Under an emergency levy, a school board determines how much money the district needs.
It is up to the county auditor to determine how many mills are required to generate the amount.
For the 2006 emergency levy, it was determined that 4.91 mills would be needed to generate $1.1 million for the Archbold school district.
But that was five years ago. Property values have changed since then.
“With changes of valuation, the millage rate will be different. Based on the millage rate, the levy may look bigger,” Deskins said.
In other words, if property values go down, more mills must be charged to property owners to generate the re- quired amount of money. Other Meetings
School board members have been talking about the district’s financial situation during several recent meetings.
It was discussed at the board’s regular Monday meetings on Dec. 20 and Jan. 10.
During the Jan. 10 meeting, Deskins discussed the uncertainty of state funding, given the change in leadership in Columbus.
New leaders, he said, have their own agendas, and money tends to follow the initiatives the new leaders support.
Ted Strickland, former governor, made education his number one priority.
Deskins said based on statements made by the Kasich administration, criminal sentencing reform and new sentencing initiatives driven by overcrowding of state prisons have priority, along with foreclosure reform.
Other initiatives of the Kasich administration that may impact education include changes in collective bargaining, educator accountability, educator salary schedules, and public retirement systems such as the State Teachers Retirement System.
Deskins said until district officials have a better idea of how funds will flow under new leadership, “it will be really tricky for us to try to continue to project and anticipate costs and potential revenues.” Unpredictable Expenses
Tony Warncke, a board member, asked about the factors on the expense side of the ledger.
Deskins said the unpredictability of health care costs is always a factor.
Ziegler pointed to utility costs, noting recent news reports that gasoline could reach $5 per gallon.
She said district officials have looked at district discretionary spending, “and there’s not a lot there that we can forgive.
“We truly feel we are currently being as prudent as we can possibly be and still produce a quality product,” she said.–David Pugh