By jeanne starmack
The state-mandated commission that is overseeing Liberty schools’ finances wants the school board to ask voters for a new tax levy.
Paul Marshall, commission chairman, said at its meeting Wednesday that a new levy likely would be a hard sell to voters. But the district has to either make cuts or raise revenues to offset projected deficits in its new five-year forecast.
Marshall said he recommends a levy of up to 5 mills. A mill generates $223,000 a year.
The commission voted unanimously to pass the forecast. Marshall stressed that it is commonplace for school districts to project deficits in the latter years of the state-mandated forecasts. It is only a prediction, and factors such as federal and state funding and enrollment figures affect it, he said.
The forecast projects the district ending in the black in 2016, but it would have a negative balance of more than $800,000 in 2017 and $1.3 million in 2018.
Marshall told the commission that “we need to do something now.”
“You don’t want to wait until the last minute,” he said.
He said the district could make cuts. “I think it’s going to be difficult to make substantial cuts,” he said.
The district already has cut staff and transportation and is sharing services with the Trumbull County Educational Services Center.
Marshall said he thinks the district will have to make cuts and raise revenues.
A new three-year contract with district staff is a positive contribution to the forecast, Marshall said. It includes a 10 percent contribution to health benefits, a move from self-insurance to coverage under a health-care consortium and no raises.
The commission will send a resolution to the school board for approval. Marshall said the resolution should be passed by January so the district could place it on the ballot for the spring.
The district has been in fiscal emergency since 2011.