Districts asking voters for more money fail all around the state

WARREN — School tax issues asking for additional cash from voters in Ohio did not fare as well as renewal levies in last week’s election.

Of the 53 new tax issues — including levies, bond issues and income tax increases across the state — only 43 percent were accepted, according to the Ohio School Boards Association.

In Trumbull County, 100 percent — two — of the new levies on the ballot failed.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected a 9.25-mill levy the Niles City School Board was hoping to pass for operating expenses in a 70 to 30 percent split. And a 1-mill levy to make permanent improvements to the Chalker building in the Southington Local School District failed 59 to 40 percent, according to unofficial results from the Trumbull County Board of Elections.

When considering only the 34 new school levy issues statewide, and not bond or income tax proposals, voters in Ohio approved half and rejected half of the levies, according to data provided by the association.

The Niles levy requested the most amount of new mills in the state to be rejected. Only two other school districts sought new levies with more millage and both were granted — 14.26 additional mills were approved by voters in the Avon Local School District in Lorain County and 10.61 additional mills were approved by Springfield City School District voters in Clark County.

The average millage for new levies passed in the state was only 3.72, while the average millage for new levies rejected in the state was 4.31.

Voters in Ohio approved 71 percent of 122 school tax issues, new or renewal, fewer than in 2016, according to the association. Last November, voters approved 77 percent of 150 school tax issues.

Voters are more likely to approve renewal levies than new or additional levies, according to the board.

Lakeview Local School District’s 2.25-mill renewal levy passed 55 to 44 percent. And two renewals Trumbull County voters weighed in on in Mahoning County’s Jackson Milton Local School District, passed with around 60 percent of the vote in the 0.9 and 4.9-mill levies.

“Faced with continuing fiscal challenges, including rising costs and an uncertain funding formula, many school districts are having to rely more and more on their local communities for support. Ohio school districts that were unsuccessful on the ballot Nov.7 likely will be forced to make tough budget decisions, including new rounds of cuts,” according to the school board association.

In the May election, two of the three school levies on the Trumbull County ballot were approved, compared to all on the ballot in March 2016, which were all renewals.

Statewide, 73 percent of school levies were approved in May — 71 out of 97. In the March 2016 election, 71 percent of school issues were approved statewide — 48 of 68.

In November 2016, voters turned down two out of six school funding issues. The four that passed were renewals.