COLUMBIANA Board plans to put levy on ballot

One board member said $1 million in cuts could include athletics and high school busing.
COLUMBIANA -- With the majority of voters unwilling to approve property taxes, the Columbiana school board will place a 1-percent income tax on the November ballot.
Voters defeated a 1.6-mill permanent improvement levy Tuesday for the third time.
The district will lose $123,000 a year because the levy was not approved and expires at the end of this year, according to school board member Stephen Cramer. "We have to be prepared, because we could lose more."
He said a 6.1-mill emergency operating levy that generates about $800,000 each year expires in December 2003.
"We have to consider that if we can't get $123,000, how are we going to get $800,000," Cramer said. "We could be $1 million short at the start of 2004."
Cramer said the board has directed Superintendent Patricia Hura and Treasurer Lori Posey to decide how the loss of $123,000 can be absorbed, but what cuts could be made if the $800,000 is gone as well.
He said $1 million in cuts could include athletics and high school busing, so the board wants to see if voters will find an income tax more palatable than a property tax.
"We need to do something, because if we are $1 million in debt in 2004, we could lose local control of our school [to the state]," he said.
"There seems to be a complacency here, a belief among the people that somehow everything will all work out.
"We keep hearing from people who own property and are on fixed incomes that they can't afford more property taxes," he said. "We also have a lot of people moving into the district who have no previous ties to the community or the school system."
Cramer said the board will have a brief special meeting Aug. 19 to take action to place the income tax on the fall ballot.
He said Hura and Posey are planning where cuts could be made and will present that information to the board at the Sept. 11 meeting.

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