June 27, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Approval of Cloverleaf levy would bring back services

WESTFIELD TWP. — Cloverleaf Schools Superintendent Daryl Kubilus remains optimistic about the district’s chances of passing a levy in Tuesday’s special election.

That’s because the district seems to be closing the gap between “no” and “yes” votes.

“We’re hoping to continue that momentum in this election next Tuesday,” Kubilus said.

A levy last November fell short by 6 percentage points, and a levy try in March failed by little more than 1 percentage point.

Kubilus said the message he is trying to get out to the public is that the district faces a $15.7 million deficit in 2017 if the two tax issues on the August ballot fail and are defeated again in November.

“I think there’s a multitude of reasons that people vote no, ranging from the economy to individual reasons,” he said. “In the end, it’s the $15.7 million deficit I have to focus on.”

The issues before voters on Tuesday are:

• An 8.3-mill, 10-year additional levy that would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $261.45 a year.

• A 6.3-mill, 10-year renewal levy that brings in $2.8 million a year. The owner of a $100,000 home now pays about $189 a year for the levy; but because of declining property values, the cost would increase to about $198.45 a year if the levy is approved.

If voters approve the 8.3-mill additional levy, high school busing would be brought back in the fall, and the district would not switch to an all-day, every-other day kindergarten model. Also, the district’s three school buildings would be reopened to community groups in the evening. All were eliminated in the district’s fiscal recovery plan.

Two sheriff’s deputies also would be added, so there could be one stationed at each building.

Any request for new money will cost taxpayers slightly more after August. That’s because the state budget, approved in June, removes a 12.5 percent property tax rollback for new levies.

School districts would collect the same amount of money, but 12.5 percent that used to come from the state now would be taxpayers’ responsibility.

“The renewal will still qualify for the rollback,” Kubilus said of the August issue.

The school board already has moved to place both issues on the November ballot, because the filing deadline is Aug. 7. Those issues will be removed if voters approve the levies on Tuesday, Kubilus said.

He said the district, which has been in fiscal emergency since January 2012, will have to keep borrowing money from the state to stay in the black if the levies fail — and that money must be paid back.

A five-member state commission oversees the district’s finances.

This year, the district will pay back the second half of a $678,000 loan from the state’s fiscal stabilization fund.

Cloverleaf has cut $6.6 million from its budget over the last five years, including 70 staff positions.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.