ROSSFORD – The Rossford Board of Education is considering something most won’t hear from often cash-strapped school districts: A reduction in property tax collection.
In a presentation to the board of education at its June 14 meeting, David Conley, of Rockmill Financial Consulting, said that the district was doing so well financially the school system could reduce 2 mills from an upcoming levy and still be set financially for a decade.
“Most districts have to go back to the voters for increases every three to five years,” Conley said. “This millage reduction would save $99.96 per year on a home valued at $142,800.”
The district’s loss of revenue would be about $800,000, he said.
Superintendent Dan Creps said the proposed 2-mill reduction on school district property tax bills would come after years of hard work controlling costs, improving property values, and the attraction of new business into the city.
He said the board was very serious about considering Conley’s suggestion that when it asks for a renewal of a levy next year. It would be for 5.9 mills versus the former 7.92 mills.
Creps said when they saw that the district would have almost $29 million in carryover in their general fund this year, the administration asked Conley to research the potential of reducing the tax load.
Major contributors to increases in the general fund included anticipated total funding from CARES and ESSER funds of around $2.2 million. Also, Amazon has agreed to pay nearly $6.5 million over 15 years on its new building in the district. Even the bond repayment for the new school construction is saving the district money because interest rates are lower than expected, with a 3.92% rate versus 4.25%.
Creps said this turn of events did not come easily.
“As Conley pointed out in his presentation, we were in a poorer position with quite a few failed levy requests and it wasn’t until 2015 we started to see some growth,” he said.
Creps maintained that some of that growth could be attributed to the district’s improvement of its facilities. Most recently, Rossford opened a new high school and elementary building.
“With the construction of the new facilities, I think that has contributed unquestionably solid growth in the value of properties, which we contended when we were campaigning for that bond issue,” Creps said.
“I think that a healthy school system is one of the strong indicators of a community that people want to be a part of,” he continued. “We have always said we have great staff here and now with the new facilities we are ready for 21st century learning.”
Conley also suggested that the school district consider creating a new capital improvement fund to set money aside for future projects, rather than leave all the money in the general fund.
He showed board members how the reduction would improve the district’s tax ranking among school districts in the region.
Rossford currently was rated as ninth highest in taxation rates among 14 school district in the region.
Conley said the 2-mill reduction would make the district fourth lowest among those districts, coming just behind Gibsonburg, Lake and Fostoria school districts.
The board agreed to discuss this further at the July board meeting.