July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Brunswick Schools to place levy on May election ballot

BRUNSWICK — Brunswick school officials said the district will ask voters for more money in the spring primary election.

“There will be some kind of levy in May,” Superintendent Mike Mayell said at a school board work session Monday night.

Mike Mayell

At the meeting, the board heard from Patrick East, the district’s treasurer and chief fiscal officer, who presented the budget outlook for the next five years.

East predicted that the district would have about $1.1 million left over in June 2013, the end of that fiscal year. But by the following year, the district would be facing a $5.1 million shortfall.

In 2015, the shortfall would swell to $13 million.

“As you can see, it goes downhill fast,” East told board members.

The district had a $7.3 million carryover in June 2012, but East said that was enough to operate the district for about 26 days. East said state guidelines suggest districts should carry enough money forward each year to fund the district for 60 days.

East presented a number of different levy options for the board to consider, including a replacement levy, an emergency levy and an income tax.

Mayell said the district is conducting a community survey that includes parents, staff and community members to determine which levy likely would earn the most support.

“We don’t want to make a decision until we get feedback from that survey,” Mayell said. He expects results from the survey to be available in about a week.

Board members said they would hold off on specific levy discussions pending the results of that survey, but they did ask East what he thought an appropriate amount would be.

East said the district would need between 5 and 8 mills to continue current operations. A 5-mill levy would bring in about $5 million each year to the district.

“We could go out for a 2-mill levy, but it would only be good for about one year,” Mayell said. He said the board then would have to return the following year to ask for more money.

A 5-mill levy would cost a Brunswick homeowner with a house assessed at $100,000 an additional $153 a year.

School board President Thomas Neumann said passing a levy will be difficult. The last time voters approved a new tax was in 2006 when they passed a 4.9-mill emergency levy. The measure passed with only 50.4 percent of the vote.

At that time, Neumann said board members promised voters they wouldn’t ask for new levy funding until 2011, and they’ve kept that promise.

“I hope people will see we’re committed to being good stewards of the public money,” he said. “We’ve only asked for it when we’ve needed it. Hopefully we’ve built up the public trust.”

East said funding from the state has declined over the past five to six years, and districts everywhere are looking at looming budget deficits.

The district collected $3.6 million in personal property taxes in 2006, but is only expected to get $816,000 from personal property taxes this year. State aid to the district also declined by about $2 million between 2006 and 2013.

Personal property reimbursements topped $2.2 million in the 2011 fiscal year, but the district won’t get any of that money this year. Stimulus money that also helped the district revenues by $1.1 million in 2012 is no longer available.

The school board will meet again in regular session 7 p.m. Dec. 17. In order to put a levy on the May 7 primary ballot, the board would have to approve placing the request on the ballot by Feb. 6 at the latest.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.