July 23, 2016

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ELECTION 2010 – BALLOT ISSUE, Buckeye board trying for a levy again

Buckeye board trying for a levy again
Kaitlin Bushinski, The Gazette

YORK TWP. — On May 4, the Buckeye school board is asking voters to approve the first additional levy in 16 years.

The five-year, 6.5-mill emergency levy would raise approximately $2.6 million annually and cost school district residents $204.75 for every $100,000 of appraised property valuation, according to figures from the Medina County Auditor’s Office.

Between 2004 and 2007, the board asked voters nine times for new operating money — eight attempts for a property tax and once for an income tax. The most recent attempt was in August 2007, when almost 60 percent of voters rejected a 7.3-mill levy. The last time voters approved new money for the district was in August 1994.

“What’s at risk is the fine work we’ve done in the last several years,” Superintendent Dennis Honkala said. “And we’re in fiscal caution, which is just one step away from fiscal emergency.”

The state placed Buckeye on fiscal caution in April 2009, which means the state now looks over the district’s finances each month. Honkala said the district will need positive ending balances for two years in order to be taken off the list.

“I wanted to keep us off the ballot for as long as possible,” Honkala said. “We re-prioritized; we did everything,” he said, adding the district instituted high pay-to-participate fees, reduced busing and eliminated it for high school students.

“I don’t know if we have much more to cut,” he said.

If voters approve the 6.5-mill levy, the district would be removed from fiscal caution. The school board also has promised:
■ High school participation fees would be reduced from $395 to $195 and junior high fees from $195 to $100;
■ Elementary (kindergarten to sixth grade) instructional fees would be reduced from $75 to $40;
■ There would be busing for students in kindergarten to 10th grade, with busing for students in grades 11 and 12 offered by request.

Honkala urged voters to visit www.buckeyelevy.com for information about why the district is requesting the levy.

“Our academics are excellent with distinction.We’ve been fiscally responsible with the money we had. We’re living on 1994 money and it’s an opportunity for the community to keep things going,” he said of the levy.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com.