LORDSTOWN Board agrees to pursue 5-year emergency levy

The board will give a second reading to the levy at a meeting next week.
LORDSTOWN -- School board members agreed Wednesday to pursue a five-year emergency levy to generate $770,000 annually for the financially strapped district.
Both the dollar amount and emergency levy were recommended by Superintendent Ray Getz and Treasurer Mark Ferrara. The levy would be for about 6 mills.
The board will meet next week for a second reading on the levy issue.
The state commission appointed earlier this year to oversee district finances also must approve the levy request for it to appear on the November ballot. The state panel plans a meeting at 10 a.m. Aug. 16 to consider the levy.
Information must be filed with the Trumbull County Board of Elections by Aug. 23 to get the issue on the Nov. 6 ballot.
State Auditor Jim Petro declared the district in fiscal emergency last year, citing a projected $1.3 million deficit. Voters in May rejected a 10.2-mill emergency levy. That levy would have brought in about $1.3 million in each of the five years.
Continuous levy: Board members considered going for a continuous levy and requesting 7 mills, which would have generated about $898,000 annually. Ferrara said an emergency levy is for a set dollar amount and that amount isn't affected by fluctuations in property valuation.
A continuous levy, which is requested for a designated millage rather than a certain dollar amount, would be affected by a drop in property valuation.
Some board members asked about setting aside a portion of levy proceeds for capital improvements and a building maintenance schedule. Ferrara said that while a district can designate a portion of continuous levy money for a capital improvements, an emergency levy goes to the general fund.
The district has made about $540,000 in cuts so far this year, and the state commission is considering additional belt-tightening using a state performance audit and staffing analysis.
"If we continue to things on the course we're on now and do what we're supported to do, within a couple of years, the district could be healthy again," Ferrara said.
The $770,000 that would be generated annually by the levy, combined with the $540,000 savings from cuts, amounts to about $1.3 million annually, he said.

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