Niles will put school levy back on May ballot

NILES — Following the defeat of a continous, 11.7-mill substitute levy in Tuesday’s election, school officials will sit down and talk about what to do next, but voters will see a levy on the ballot in May.

“The next step for us is having a very in-depth conversation about what kind of levy is on the ballot in the spring,” Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen said.

The school board, levy committee and administration team plan to have some sort of levy on the ballot in 2019, but need to discuss how much it will be and what type of levy to seek.

“We only have two more times to get the two renewals on the ballot. We tried the substitute levy, which is new to not only Niles, but the tri-county area. The community spoke. We will discuss whether to go with a substitute levy or with the renewal next year,” Thigpen said following Tuesday’s defeat.

One emergency levy is up for renewal in 2019 and the other in 2022.

The substitute levy was defeated by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent, according to incomplete and unofficial results from the Trumbull County Board of Elections. A substitute levy would have allowed the district to maintain its current financial status by combining both levies into one.

It would not have cost taxpayers any more than what they are now paying for the two separate levies, but it would allow for greater tax assessment if any improvements to a property, such as an addition or swimming pool, were made that would increase the home’s value.

The substitute levy would have combined 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 concept of substitute levies was introduced in Ohio in 2008.

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

Sixty-nine percent voting against is a pretty telling number, Thigpen said. The data will be looked at and will help to make future decisions, she said.

“We will be on the ballot in some shape or form in spring 2019,” Thigpen said.

Thigpen said the last continual levy in Niles was passed in 1996.

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