Niles schools to seek sub levy

NILES — Niles City Schools will ask voters in November to consider a substitute tax levy, which would merge two 10-year emergency levies into one continuous levy that would no longer expire or require voter approval.

Treasurer Lori Hudzik said property owners currently on the books wouldn’t see an increase if the levy, which proposes substituting two 4.9-mill emergency levies that generate $1.3 million each with one continuous 11.7-mill levy that would generate $2.6 million, passes.

Only new properties that come on to the tax duplicate after the Nov. 6 election would see an increase, she said, and the substitute levy would be treated in the same manner as renewal levies with homestead and rollback tax exemptions.

The emergency levies proposed for substitution are up for renewal in 2019 and 2022. If passed as a continuous levy, the substitute levy wouldn’t require future voter approval and state law says the sum of tax will increase “only if and as new land or real property improvements not previously taxed by the school district are added to its tax list.”

Hudzik said passage of the proposed continuous substitute tax levy would put the district in a position of knowing it will indefinitely collect $2.6 million annually while not having to worry about whether the two renewals might go the way of recent new money requests and be overwhelmingly rejected by voters.

“We are not adding any millage to it or anything like that,” Hudzik said. “This will not cost the taxpayer any more money. It is a fixed amount.”

In other business, the board approved a five-year forecast for June. The forecast wasn’t immediately available for review, but Hudzik said it shows the district ending the 2018-19 school year with a cash balance of $72,000. The district faces deficits of more than $1.4 million, $4 million and $7.3 million for fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, according to the state auditor’s office. The forecast doesn’t include the proposed tax levy going on the ballot.