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Barberton treasurer suggests putting school levy on November ballot

By admin Published: July 13, 2011

BARBERTON: The city schools' treasurer painted a dismal picture for the district's financial future at a special school board meeting Monday night and suggested placing an emergency levy on the ballot in November.

Ryan Pendleton said the district will go in the red by 2013 without additional revenue. He estimates a $1.2 million deficit based on the current level of spending.

''The district has done everything possible to reduce costs,'' Pendleton said. ''Board members have reduced the administrative staff, the teaching staff through attrition and RIF (reductions in force), building consolidation by combining two middle schools and closing Santrock Elementary early, which saved on utility bills and allowing open enrollment with the district's Excellent rating and new schools as enticement.''

Pendleton also said a huge savings for the district was the concessions made in the latest contract with the teachers' union. At Monday's school board meeting, the board approved a similar contract with the 26 administrators in the school district: a pay freeze for three years and no step increases, and paying more in premiums for health care 10 percent the first year and 12 percent starting the second year.

''What we are facing are systematic issues, a problem we can't solve long term without help unless the community steps up,'' Superintendent John Hall said. ''We hate to become professional beggars, but we have less state dollars.''

Pendleton is suggesting an emergency levy for at least three years and ideally for five years, rather than a long-term operating levy.

Property owners already pay on an 8.6-mill operating levy that was passed in 2005 and renewed in 2009. It will run through 2020.

Those who own a $100,000 home already pay $265 a year in property taxes to the schools.

Homeowners also pay on a bond issue and permanent improvement tax levy that was passed in March 2008 that runs for 25 years. The owner of a $100,000 home pays $186 a year.

Pendleton said it will be up to the board members to decide on what type of levy should be placed on the ballot and for how much. It would also be up to the members to decide what to cut if that levy fails.

''The district has managed to keep a new levy off the ballot as long as possible,'' he said. ''It was delayed for two years.''

In order to get something on the November ballot, board members would need to act by Aug. 10.

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