Official: Levy is a renewal — not a new tax

By Denise Dick


City school district voters in November will be asked to renew a levy originally passed in 2008.

If approved, the levy would continue to generate about $5.2 million per year for four years.

Board members at a special meeting Wednesday passed a first resolution to place the renewal on the November ballot. A second reading, expected at Tuesday’s regular board meeting, is required.

“It’s a renewal — it’s not a new tax,” said Lock P. Beachum Sr., school board president.

He said he’s disappointed the board isn’t able to ask for a reduced amount.

That’s not possible, he said, because of economic conditions and because of the academic recovery plan approved by the state Academic Distress Commission.

“I hate that we have to ask for that millage,” Beachum said.

The levy originally was on the ballot at 9.5 mills. The millage is expected to increase because property values in the city have decreased since the 2008 passage so additional millage is required to generate the same dollars.

The amount paid by taxpayers, though, will remain the same.

The academic plan spells out steps the district must enact to improve academics and student achievement.

The board learned at Wednesday’s special meeting that the bolstered seventh through 12th grade curriculum will cost about $500,000 for books and other supplies including microscopes, atlases, lab coats and scientific calculators.

“We have to do everything we can to improve academics and to move the district out of academic watch,” Beachum said.

The district must continue to look for places to cut costs and save money, he said.

It took four tries at the ballot before voters approved the levy that expires at year’s end. Passage came after the district cut millions in spending and hundreds of jobs.

The district emerged from nearly five years of fiscal emergency and state control of its finances last year.

It had previously been in fiscal emergency in the 1990s and came out only to fall back in six years ago.

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