‘Excellent’ district fears fiscal fiasco
By susan tebben
A school district that’s been designated excellent with distinction for two consecutive years fears an operating deficit if a renewal levy isn’t passed in May.
Two levies for the Jackson-Milton School District were rejected by voters in November.
A 2.9-mill, five-year additional levy to avoid an operating deficit to raise $549,000 annually was rejected by 67 percent of voters. Also rejected was a 4.9-mill, five-year renewal levy to raise $988,485.
The district can cope until spring, but if the renewal levy does not pass in May, it faces the danger of losing revenue in the 2014 fiscal year, according to school district Treasurer John Zinger.
The school district has 86 employees, according to the Jackson-Milton website.
“We needed those levies to pass just to maintain [the current budget],” Superintendent Kirk Baker said.
The loss of $1.8 million in tangible personal property reimbursement, which was cut from Jackson-Milton’s $9 million budget by Ohio Legislature cuts, made the levies necessary this year, Baker said. That caused the need for the additional 2.9 mill levy on top of the renewal levy. The additional levy would cost homeowners $90 annually per $100,000 of assessed home value, according to school district figures.
“It does not increase taxes, but if the levies don’t pass it will increase our deficit spending,” Zinger said.
Zinger and Baker both said they heard some confusion from voters about the new library being built on the property. The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County is building the library, not the school district.
“The people we heard from said ‘if we have money to build a library we don’t need the extra money,’ so it’s important to note that we are not building that library,” Zinger said.
A levy committee will be formed in January, Baker said, to help get the word out to voters about the levy. A committee was not formed to promote the November levies.