Last updated: August 23. 2013 10:51AM - 275 Views

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ELIDA — Elida schools will ask voters for a little less than its last levy attempt, but it will again go on the ballot without full board support.

The board voted 4-1 Tuesday to put a levy on the November ballot to raise $1.9 million a year for the district. The millage is estimated at 5.45 mills. The board will meet again in the coming weeks to officially take it to voters.

“We need to be on the ballot in the fall. I don’t see any way around it,” Treasurer Joel Parker said.

Board member Brian Anders disagrees, just as he did when the board went to voters last May. This will be the district’s third levy try in a year.

“I am just voting the way the majority of voters have voted the past two elections,” he told The Lima News. “Both times the majority of voters have said no, but yet we have a board that does not get that and wants to keep trying and trying.”

Board member Brenda Stocker asked Anders at the meeting to publicly explain his vote, but he declined. She then asked if he had a plan to increase revenue and he again declined.

The district is asking for slightly less than what it did in May, when a 5.95 mill levy would have raised $2.1 million. Parker said the district can do this because the recently signed state budget gives the district a bump in revenue.

Elida is expected to get an additional $400,000 in the first year of the budget, bringing its state aid to $7.5 million. It will get an additional $800,000 in the second year. The $7.5 million in state aid is where the district was in 2004. Parker said it gives no room to address inflation over the last decade.

“To me it is the Grinch funding formula,” he said. “Take it away and then you give it back and then we are supposed to be excited about it when you give it back, but it is what we had before.”

Parker wants the district to get to a 60-day carryover in order to deal with financial unknowns such as health care, vouchers, special-education costs and other expenses associated with inflation.

If the district doesn’t pass a levy, it would have a 10-day carryover of $624,000 on June 30, 2015. Passing a levy in November would result in a 60-day carryover of $3.5 million.

“We really need a solid financial plan to get us back to that 60-day carryover and take on all those unknowns,” he said. “We are not looking to add anything back with this levy, just to put together a five-year plan to keep us on sound financial ground.”

The board approved a resolution Tuesday saying it would strive to keep at least a 60-day carryover. If unable to, then Parker would have to submit a proposal of options to the board on how to achieve it. All five members approved it.

Anders said that while he likes the idea of a 60-day carryover, it may not be possible.

“We need to look at what the voters are saying,” he said, also pointing to the financial forecast looking a little better because of the increase from the state. “People are just not ready to support another levy at Elida.”

Elida lost $2.3 million in revenue over the past five years while cutting $2.8 million. Forty-three employees have been cut in the last 10 years.

The board approved $465,569 in cuts following last November’s levy defeat. They begin this coming school year. The cuts include increasing pay-to-participate fees, replacing retiring staff with those making less money and restructuring two central office positions.

No additional cuts are expected, but without a successful levy attempt, more would be needed the following year. Officials have said it would be hard to find places to reduce.

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