Niles OKs school levy

Board approves a substitute tax instead of two renewals

NILES — The Niles Board of Education took the final step Thursday in getting a levy on the ballot in November.

The board approved a resolution to submit to the Trumbull County Board of Elections the question of a substitute tax levy.

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 9.2-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 the 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.”

Niles City Schools, which is in a state of fiscal watch and facing deep budget deficits, has failed twice in recent months to pass a new emergency levy. Hudzik said the district is approaching the substitute levy option out of a worry that voter fatigue might result in renewals failing at the polls as well.

Since 1973, Niles City Schools have placed levies before voters 44 times, Hudzik said. No other districts in Trumbull County have sought a substitute levy, but the tactic is popping up in other places across the state, Hudzik said.

“It’s a new kind of levy, but it is starting to be used in other districts in Ohio,” Hudzik said.