SCHOOL DISTRICT Board votes on levies for Nov. ballot

The district is expected to receive $777,000 in state and federal grants.
CANFIELD -- The school board is set to ask voters to approve two five-year tax issues worth a total of 1 mill to pay for building and equipment maintenance.
An emergency meeting was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. today so the board can approve a resolution to place a new 0.6-mill levy and a renewal of a 0.4-mill levy on the November ballot. It will be the second time the board votes on the final resolution needed to place the resolutions on the ballot.
The first vote on the resolution occurred Wednesday night at a meeting attended by three of the five board members. All three voted to place the levies on the ballot.
District Business Manager Rich Archer said this morning, however, that school officials realized the law required at least four board members to approve the resolution. The emergency meeting was then hastily scheduled.
If approved by voters, the 0.6-mill levy would allow the board to collect an additional $282,799 each year, while the 0.4-mill levy would continue to produce $146,639 annually.
The owner of a $100,000 home in the district would pay an additional $1.53 a year in taxes if the 0.6-mill levy is approved, Treasurer Pattie Kesner said. Information about how much the owner of a $100,000 home pays for the 0.4-mill levy was not immediately available.
Protecting investment
Superintendent Dante Zambrini said the levy revenue is needed to protect taxpayers' investment in school buildings and equipment, adding that every building in the district is at least 30 years old and in need of some repairs. The district's oldest building is Canfield Village Middle School, which was built in 1922, he said.
Zambrini also said that the costs of repairing buildings and equipment has increased over the last nine years, while the amount of money collected through the 0.4-mill levy has not. He also stressed that revenue from the levies could only be spent on building and equipment maintenance, and not salaries.
The 0.4-mill levy was first approved by voters in 1985. In 1995, voters agreed to increase the amount collected through the levy by basing it on property values for that year.
Since then, the amount collected through the levy has continued to be based on the 1995 property values. Under state law, the amount collected through a levy cannot be increased without approval from voters.
Repaying debt
On Wednesday, the board also agreed to re-pay about $1.4 million of the district's outstanding $10.3 million debt from a 12-year, 2.5-mill bond issue. The bond issue, which was approved by voters in 1998, allowed the board to borrow about $12.5 million to pay for repairs and maintenance.
Including the $1.4 million from Wednesday, the board has re-paid a total of about $3.6 million from the bond issue, leaving a debt of $8.9 million, Kesner said. She said she expects the board to re-pay that debt in less than the 12 years required by the bond issue, a move which will allow it to reduce its interest payments.
Zambrini also announced Wednesday that the district expects to receive about $777,000 in state and federal grants for this school year, an increase of $206,000 over last year. Most of that increase will come from a $516,000 federal grant to help pay for special education.
Last year, the district received $331,821 through the same grant. Grant money also will be used for professional development for teachers, drug-free schools programs, reading programs and technology needs.

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