By DAVID HANKINS
Gorham Fayette Superintendent
The Gorham Fayette Local Schools would like to take this opportunity to provide you with some information and philosophies concerning the 7-mill levy renewal for operating expenses that appears on the Nov. 6 ballot.
School funding in Ohio is certainly a complicated and unpredictable computation, and we have been fortunate at FLS to be able to maintain stability in our finances while continuing to provide a quality education for the students in this school district.
You have probably also followed the discussions the Board of Education has had concerning the decision to let the current levy expire vs. placing the issue on the ballot. The resolutions were passed to place the issue on the ballot a short time before the lawsuit with DH Holdings was settled. Knowing the amount of the settlement, and remembering their promise to district residents to provide maximum tax relief, the board chose to remove the issue until the finances of the district and options for bond repayment could be studied in the hope of providing for you the maximum return on your investment.
We heard from many of you at that time stressing that you did not want to see the issue removed and felt it was in the best interest of the district to maintain that revenue flow and to provide an opportunity for you to vote on that issue. $1.5 million has been set aside from the settlement to establish a defeasance fund to pay off current notes, and the majority of the board agreed to place the levy renewal on the November ballot. Later in this article I will share numbers and the effect of the renewal on our district.
There are four types of levies that are available to school districts for funding.
• A regular operating levy for current expenses is based on millage and not a dollar amount. Our current levy expiring is in this category. It can be renewed or replaced.
• An emergency levy is submitted as a dollar amount to be raised per year. The mills are adjusted each year to keep the income constant for that levy. It can be renewed.
• A replacement levy can raise more revenue than the levy it replaces, even though it could have the same millage rate. The reason is that the original levy which is being replaced may have been in existence through one or more reassessments. If the value of the property has increased, the factor of HB 920 kicks in. HB 920 reduces millage to provide the constant amount of dollars originally voted in. In the case of our 7-mill levy, our current effective millage is approximately 6.1.
• A school district income tax is based on a percentage and our district tax is currently 1.0%. Income tax is not affected by HB 920 and can grow with the district.
The Fayette Board of Education has chosen to go forward with a renewal of our current 7-mill five-year operating levy. This would result in you paying no more in taxes than you are currently paying, and with continued cost cutting should continue to operate our district and provide the extra funding needed for the new facility for operating costs.
Also, the defeasance will allow for bond repayment which will result in a rollback of millage, and which should show up in your tax bill at some point. If you log on to your computer at www.ode.state.oh.us and click on the left side on the School District Financial Status box, it will take you to the Five Year Forecast. You can check on the status of any school district in Ohio.
If you look at ours, you will see that we are projected with the renewal of this levy to remain in the black until 2011. With continued cost cutting and the levy renewal, that deficit can be held off until 2012, when the levy currently up for renewal will expire again.
We truly appreciate your support for the Fayette School District. If you have not driven by our new facility lately, please do. Parking lots have base coats, lighting is up and operable, windows and doors are in, roofs are almost completed, and the yard is seeded. They are on schedule, and move-in is on target for this coming summer, with a fall 2008 start in the new facility.
See you at the polls!