Niles schools seek to pass substitute levy

Continuous tax will combine two separate operating ones

NILES — Niles City Schools officials are asking for voter support of an 11.7-mill continuous substitute levy on the Nov. 6 general election ballot that will generate funds for day-to-day operations of the school district.

School Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen said the district has an emergency operating levy expiring in November 2019 and a similar operating levy expiring in 2022.

“We are looking at combining both of those other levies on the books into one continuous substitute levy. The state allows school districts to look at levies they currently have,” Thigpen said.

The substitute levy will combine two 10-year levies — a 4.6-mill emergency levy passed in 2009 and a 4.65-mill levy passed in 2012 — that each generate $1.3 million into one continuous levy. Those two levies now require 5.7 mills each to generate the same amount of money they did when passed at lower millage rates.

The Niles district is the first district in Trumbull County to approach a substitute levy.

Thigpen said with a continuous levy, the district will not have to keep going to the voters as often.

“The levy is needed to continue day-to-day operations. We chose to go with a substitute levy after the community was telling us that too often the schools were asking for levy passage,” she said.

The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 house $323 per year.

Treasurer Lori Hudzik said there will be no new taxes with the substitute levy.

“We will be collecting the same amount of $2.6 million with the substitute levy that we were collecting with the two emergency operating levies,” Hudzik said.

The last continuous levy the district passed was in November 1996.

Hudzik said the district’s website at nilescityschools.org has set up a site for answering residents’ questions.

The Niles City School District entered fiscal watch status this summer. Officials said a substitute levy would allow the district to maintain its current financial status and potentially avoid being placed into fiscal emergency.

Officials said if the levy does not pass, the district will have to make additional cuts prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year. The administration and board also will have to re-evaluate its curricular and extracurricular programs.

Twenty percent of the district’s funding comes from local taxpayers. The remaining 80 percent comes from federal and state programs and grants.

COMMENTS