Voters in the Delaware School District will be asked next March to make a five-year operating tax levy permanent.
The Delaware school board approved placing a substitute levy on the March 2016 ballot at a meeting Tuesday night.
School officials emphasized that approval of the levy will not increase taxes for property owners.
Superintendent Paul Craft said the substitute levy would replace a five-year emergency operating levy that was passed in 2011. Craft said the 2011 levy generates about $6 million annually for the district operating expenses. Craft said the millage has stayed at about 8.3 mills during the levy’s life.
School officials told voters in 2011 that the levy would keep them off the ballot for at least three years, Craft said.
Craft said the substitute levy would take advantage of growth that’s occurred on the east and west sides of Delaware, as well as in the industrial park. Craft added that the district has grown by 600 students since 2011.
“Substitute levies are designed for growing communities like Delaware,” said Jen Ruhe, head of public relations for the district. “[Substitute levies] keep the taxes base stable for those who are already here, but it allows you to capture the value of new growth in a community.”
Craft said the levy’s failure would mean the loss of between $1,100 and $1,200 per pupil. “It would mean major, major cuts from a base that’s already low,” Craft said. “We have worked very hard to do a great job for our students at a cost that is sustainable for our taxpayers.”
“I’m glad we are going out on just a substitute,” Craft said. “All we are asking taxpayers for is a levy that takes the place of a levy that already exists. There will be no new taxes. We are proud of that. We want to be as fiscally responsible as we can.”
Craft said there are still a few minor steps before the levy is officially on the March ballot but said the board would be completing them in time for the filing deadline in December.
The board’s vote to seek the levy was unanimous.
Craft said the levy is similar to a $4.9 million levy passed by Big Walnut Local Schools in November 2014.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.
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