The Akron school board will ask voters in November to approve a 7.9-mill property tax levy to avoid drastic cuts.
The levy would bring in about $19 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $242 a year, an 18 percent increase in school taxes.
Even if the levy passes, the district would receive only a half-year’s collection in 2013. The board still would have to cut about $8 million next year.
However, the district, which chopped about $22 million to balance the books this year, would have to cut another $23 million next year if the levy fails.
“Without additional support, the next round of cuts will be drastic and severe,” Superintendent David James said.
It would have taken a 10.85-mill levy, costing the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $332, to collect enough money to curb further reductions. Board members agreed that was an unrealistic request.
“We’re trying to strike a balance,” James said. “It’s going to have to be some compromise where we’re getting some additional revenue and we’re being responsible in terms of trying to curb costs as best we can and protect the classroom and protect instruction.”
Board members also considered asking for an 8.5-mill levy, which would have generated almost $1.5 million more. Members Patrick Bravo and Bruce Alexander argued that the levy should be large enough to stabilize the district’s finances, even if it’s a tougher sell to the public.
“We’re going to have to work on how to convince the public that this was the right decision regardless,” Bravo said.
But the memory of the district’s narrow levy defeat in last November left some members skittish about pushing for too much.
That levy, for 5.5 mills, failed by 197 votes after a recount.
“It’s all or nothing,” board member Lisa Mansfield said. “To come so close and still get nothing, it’s not like, ‘Well, we came so close, so we get half of it.’ You get nothing.”
The board is still negotiating contracts with its unions, which could change the depth of cuts required whether the levy passes or fails.
The board will meet again Wednesday morning to give final approval for the levy request.