Continuing levies an option for BG schools


To have 20 ballot issues in 25 years — or just seven — is one of the many questions facing the Bowling
Green City Schools Board of Education.
The board met Saturday with financial consultant David Conley for three hours to continue the discussion
on how to combat voter fatigue when it comes to the ballot.
A perfect scenario would be to get the district’s levies – all renewable every five years – to continuing
status, said Conley, with Rockmill Financial Consultants.
The board is concerned when to put its $1 million emergency levy and its 4.2 mill current expense levy –
which both expire in 2020 – on the ballot, yet still work around the proposed facilities levy.
At Wednesday’s financial task force meeting, the consensus was to put a $40 million facilities project on
the Nov. 6 ballot.
The board can decide to continue as is and renew the levies every five years, keep the levies separate
and make them continuing taxes, or combine them as continuing taxes.
“But when do we do it?” asked school board President Ginny Stewart.
Conley said the $1 million emergency levy is the smallest the district has and that “it is almost a
nuisance levy. It’s not big enough to ruin the day, but it’s big enough to be a nuisance. And yet there
it sits.”
“It makes sense,” said board member Bill Clifford about converting the existing levies to continuing
status. “We’ve talked voter fatigue for a long time.”
While cutting the number of levies “sounds wonderful, it is only wonderful if the community supports it,”
Clifford added.
Conley said that if the board does old-fashioned renewal levies, they will pass. But the district would
have to come back and deal with them again every five years.
Clifford questions whether two renewals and a facility issue could all pass in November.
“Is it too much at one time and could you end up losing all three?” Conley said.
Another option is to shore up operating money before tackling facilities, he said.
Stewart said that the longer the board waits on a facilities plan, the more expensive it will get.
“We know we have this emergency need in our elementary buildings, and the longer we wait on that, the $40
million just gets greater and greater,” she said.
Conley said that if the board put the two operating levies on in November, they would probably pass. That
leaves three elections in 2020 to attempt the facilities project. However, the task force recommended
this November for that issue.
If the facilities issue fails in November, Conley predicted the board won’t come back with that again
until 2021, after the operating monies are taken care of.
Stewart said that if the operating levies fail in March 2020 the board can come back in November 2020
with another attempt.
The idea of a substitute tax also was discussed.
With an emergency levy, the only options are to renew it for five or 10 years, Conley said. The benefits
of converting it to a substitute tax is it will allow the district to capture property taxes as the
district grows. Instead of a $1 million emergency levy gathering only $1 million even as the district
grows – and everyone’s share drops — a substitute tax will go up as homes and business are built.
The disadvantage is the confusing ballot language, Conley said.
The sample ballot language does not have “renewal” in its language, but the last sentence says, “the sum
of such tax to increase only if and as new land or real property improvements not previously taxed by
the school district are added to its tax list.”
“That’s the hardest part, the educating,” Stewart said.
Preserving the rollback now allowed by homeowners again came up as an important goal.
Treasurer Cathy Schuller said option one is to renew both levies and preserve the rollback. Option two is
to convert the emergency levy to a substitute levy, renew both levies and preserve the rollback. Or,
keep the emergency levy on a five-year cycle and change the current operating levy to continuing, which
also will preserve the rollback.
If the board combines the two operating levies, the rollback on the $1 million portion will be lost,
which will cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 roughly $6 per year.
The board then cannot say no new taxes, board member Norman Geer pointed out.
Clifford said they need to show the public what it would experience with renewals versus continuing
“We’ve accomplished a lot, you have all the facts and now it’s gut-check time,” Conley said.
Clifford said every time they meet, he is getting new information.
“It’s been beneficial,” he said, adding now he will assimilate all the information before deciding.
Geer said he is close to making a decision on the tax plan but pointed out it may change as he thinks
about it. It’s about deciding what makes the most sense, he said.
Superintendent Francis Scruci said this is a difficult decision.
“The board is in a really tough spot because there is a lot of information to consider,” he said.
“There’s a lot of pros and cons to every argument.”
The board will meet again with Conley on March 30 to get final questions answered. That meeting starts at
9 a.m. in the Administrative Office.

No posts to display