Howland to vote on levy

Board decides to place emergency 5.9-mill measure on May 8 ballot

HOWLAND — Expressing a dire need for money largely because of cuts in state funding, the school board Monday unanimously voted to place an emergency levy on the May 8 election ballot.

“This levy is a need not because we are overspending, but because the governor made cuts and it’s having a negative effect on public schools,” said Ken Jones, school board president.

District officials pointed to the loss of $2.9 million in funding over the past 10 years because of the gradual removal of tangible personal property taxes in Ohio as the reason why the 10-year, 5.9-mill levy is needed. The levy would raise about $3.2 million per year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $206 more per year in taxes.

The personal property tax, which according to district Treaurer Rhonda Amorganos was paid by business owners on their inventory and fixtures, was repealed as a way to give local businesses a tax cut.

A tax reimbursement program was then put in place to alleviate school district’s and local government’s loss of funding, but starting in 2012 payments were reduced until it reached zero this year, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.

Also to compensate for the loss of funding, Jones said the state increased school funding by 7 percent, but because the district is considered “wealthy,” Howland does not receive the increase.

Now, with the tax and the reimbursement program gone and without increased funding, Amorganos said the district is in the red and will lose $1.9 million in the 2017-18 school year.

She said the board will make spending cuts to try and even out the books, but the levy is the board’s main plan.

“We’re going to do well enough to get through next year, but you can’t cut yourself to prosperity,” Jones said. “You can’t cut and keep the quality of education we have.”

The district has two school levies, one from 1978 and another from 2003, Amorganos said. The levies combined generate approximately $4.2 million and cost the homeowner of a $100,000 about $276 per year.

Jones said the board has yet to decide what cuts will be made.