PEMBERVILLE – Eastwood Local Schools is removing its ballot from the May election after finding out it was the only issue scheduled.
“Because of that, we will now be required to pay for the entire election,” said Superintendent Brent Welker at a special board meeting Thursday.
Treasurer Monica Leppelmeier said the cost could be $20,000-$25,000.
“So, the question is, do you want to remain the only issue on the ballot, or do you want to move the ballot and put it on in November?” Welker said.
By comparison, the district paid $10,000 for a May 2022 issue, $2,129 for a May 2020 issue and $204 for a May 2019 issue, Leppelmeier said.
Several years ago, the General Assembly made a change to how elections are financed. The result is that entities on the ballot are required to split the costs of the election. The more entities on the ballot, like in a major general election, the lower the cost, Welker explained..
If you are the only issue on the ballot, then you must pay the entire cost, he wrote in a community email Friday.
“I’ve gone back and forth, but where I’m at, I think I’m confident enough in our support to punt it until November,” said board President AJ Haas.
He said he didn’t want the district to be fiscally irresponsible for an election.
Board member Ashley Culp said she agreed with Haas. If this was a request for new money, she may reconsider, but this is a renewal, Culp said.
The board had planned to ask voters to renew the district’s 2-mill permanent improvement levy, which has been collected for more than 20 years,
It currently collects about $550,000-$600,000 a year, Leppelmeier said.
If it is not passed in November, the district will lose that income for at least one year and any future request will be for new money, she said.
Leppelmeier said the district needs to do what is fiscally right, “but part of me has a fear of ‘what if it doesn’t pass.’”
Board member Denis Helm agreed that the district should wait until November. He said a renewal request has never failed, and this will save the district money.
Board member Randy Rothenbuhler said he could argue either side, and he doesn’t want to take the community for granted. But he wants to be as fiscally responsible as possible with the funds they’ve been entrusted with, Rothenbuhler said.
The board unanimously approved a resolution to not proceed with the renewal levy in May.
They were told the deadline to put the request on the November ballot was in August.