Conley

From left, Dave Conley with Rockmill Financial Consulting, and Tim Hamilton and Dan Obrynba, both with Fanning Howey Associates

Bowling Green City Schools has an income tax renewal approaching and the board of education may decide to ask voters to approve it for a continuing term.

The district’s financial adviser, David Conley, with Rockmill Financial Consulting, attended a workshop Thursday to explain the options the board has before its 0.5% income tax expires in 2022.

Conley has been working with BGCS for the past three years, helping to determine a way to finance a new elementary school project and explain the benefits of bundling two levies into one continuing issue.

After having his contract extended in April, Conley is back to provide information for the upcoming ballot issue.

That tax collected around $3.76 million this fiscal year and $3.96 million in fiscal year 2020.

The board can decide to ask voters to continue supporting the tax for five years, or go out to 15 or even 38, Conley said. Or can decide to make it a continuing, or permanent, tax.

A continuing tax frees up money in the general fund that otherwise would need to be kept in reserve in the event of an economic downturn or the loss of a temporary levy, he said.

The community in April 2020 approved for a continuing time a 1.35-mill substitute tax which took the place of a $1 million emergency levy and a 4.2-mill property tax. Both had been on five-year renewal cycles.

Conley said Thursday the income tax can be on the ballot for renewal in November, or May or November 2022.

The deadline to put it on the ballot for November is Aug. 4.

The board can make it a continuing tax, combine it with a bond issue for a future facilities issue, or it can be addressed in a way to equalize the mix between income tax and property taxes now collected.

“That’s still an open question that we haven’t resolved as part of our tax policy initiative,” Conley said.

Real estate taxed contribute 56% to the district’s revenues while the income tax brings in 11%, according to the district’s most recent five-year forecast.

As reflected in that forecast, the district has pushed a new operating money request from 2022 to 2024 and it could go out to 2025 or 2026 depending on state funding, Conley said.

“Conservatively I’m saying it should be 2024, but we should be better than that,” he said.

The district will have to consider facilities as well, he said.

“At some point, in 2021 or 2022, the board might consider another request of voters to deal with facilities,” he said.

Conley returned to the discussion of making the income tax permanent.

The last time the income tax came before voters, it was approved by 74.96% of voters.

That rate is incredibly high and, if the board wants a slam dunk, it should decide to ask for a five-year renewal, he said.

Given the success with the two property taxes being approved as continuing levies, Conley said he thinks the community understands the concept of going from five years to a continuing process.

Two representatives from Fanning Howey Associates also attended the meeting to discuss how they would lead the district toward new facilities.

Conley said the district ranks 495 among Ohio schools in line for Ohio Facilities Construction Commission funding and would have to pay around 82% of the cost of any project.

Dan Obrynba, project executive with Fanning Howey Associates, said it is best to do any projects sooner rather than later due to rising prices.

He said the district needs to have a big-picture approach for all facilities.

Obrynba said if a bond issue is approved next year for facilities, it will take three or four years before the project is complete.

Board President Norm Geer said the district has never asked voters to support a bond issue for a new high school separately from the proposed consolidated elementary.

Board member Tracy Hovest got confirmation if the board tried for the income tax renewal in November, May would be a good time to start addressing facilities.

“I’ve been ready to start,” said board member Ryan Myers.

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