LIMA — A Lima school board discussion on whether to put a five or 10-year renewal levy on the ballot turned into a brief discussion Thursday on whether to go to voters at all.
The board ultimately voted 4-1 to stay with the five-year levy, with Bobbi McGinnis voting against it.
“If we are asking people for their money, we ought to also give them a reasonable period of time to have us be accountable for that money,” McGinnis said when speaking against the 10-year plan. She opposes property taxes.
McGinnis told the board it might have a better chance if it didn’t go on the November ballot, where there will likely be referendums on a county sales and use tax increase. Sandra Monfort agreed, yet still supports the levy attempt.
“I’m fearful they will see tax, tax, and it will be no, no,” Monfort said. “November may be a dangerous time to place it on the ballot.”
The county commissioners approved last month raising the county sales and use tax by 0.5 percentage points for three years. Board President Saul Allen Jr. said the fact remains that the levy needs to be renewed.
“Whatever else is going on, the levy is up and it is time for it to be renewed,” he said.
A change in the law last year allows districts to put emergency levies on for up to 10 instead of five years. Treasurer Ryan Stechschulte wanted the board to consider the 10 years, saying it would combat voter fatigue.
The 5.3-mill levy would generate $1.6 million a year, and is needed to maintain current programs, Stechschulte said. It was first approved by voters in 2005.
One resident spoke at Thursday’s meeting. Robert Budde, of the 9-12 Project, urged the board to pray before it voted, and suggested it keep the levy at five years.
“I think there should be accountability,” he said.
Board members reported varied opinions from residents at last month’s board meeting. The district could save money by going with 10 years, but board member C. Ann Miles questions whether the community will understand. It costs school districts a minimum of $20,000 to put a levy on, depending on how many issues are on the ballot.
“We can’t take a chance at upsetting them and then not pass it,” Miles said. “I just don’t want voters to be upset that we are trying to ram 10 years down their throats.”
Marilyn Frueh added that even great supporters of the district and school levies expressed concern about 10 years. Allen and Monfort both stressed that the district has consistently made cuts and looked for ways to save money.
Lima schools levy
Raises $1.6 million a year
Cost 13.63 a month for owner $100,000 home