The Wauseon school district is asking voters to support the first renewal of an emergency property tax to maintain its current level of operations.
The eight-year, 3.99-mill levy would generate $841,089 annually, commencing in 2019. Revenue would be placed directly into the school district’s general fund to cover operational costs. Because the proposed levy is a renewal, no new taxes are involved. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $139.65 annually.
First passed by voters in May of 2011, the levy’s millage has decreased from the original 4.38 mills, an amount set when property values were lower. However, because the state has designated it an emergency levy, which is set up to collect a specific dollar amount, the revenue collected from it annually will remain the same.
Larry Brown, Wauseon schools superintendent, said between 2013-17 the school district’s controlled spending made additional tax revenue unnecessary. “Community members should, however, be aware that the $841,089 is necessary for the continuity of our educational programming,” he said. “We will continue to monitor our spending to attempt (to) maintain our operations at 2011 tax revenue levels for as long as we are able to do so.”
The levels have been maintained through the use of general fund forecasting “so we can make staffing and operational decisions that account for the financial support that our school community can provide our students,” he said.
An emergency levy passed by voters in 1991, and generating $835,000 annually, was the last time before 2011 the school district requested additional funding.
David Fleming, the school district’s treasurer, said the levy’s failure to pass would cause a big hit to the school district’s budget. “It would be a struggle for the district because it would be a tremendous amount of money for us to lose,” he said.
In that case, the district’s administrators would review costs to determine what programs might have to be eliminated.
Fleming said the positive financial condition of Wauseon schools “is due to the board running a very tight ship, and additional state and federal money coming through. We work very collaboratively here with our administrative team and our board of directors to do the best for our students.”
Should the proposed levy fail, the school district may place it again on the November 2019 ballot.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.