Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
By Amy Kronenberger
Board focuses on operating levy
Celina
  CELINA - School board members have decided an income tax levy for operating costs will take precedence over building a new elementary school.
On Monday, board members opted to push off another attempt to get a bond levy passed to build a new school until at least 2014. Instead, they will focus on getting voters to renew and increase an income tax levy next year.
In 2008, Celina voters approved a five-year, 0.75 percent income tax for school operating costs. The tax brings in $2.175 million annually and expires at the end of 2013.
Treasurer Mike Marbaugh on Monday recommended increasing the levy, but he did not give a specific amount, to offset future deficits. He suggested putting the levy on the May 7 primary ballot; the deadline to certify the levy with the board of elections is Feb 6.
"The levy is a renewal, but with the deficit we're facing, we should have an increase of some kind," Marbaugh said.
In his most recent five-year financial forecast, Marbaugh predicted a $2.4 million deficit by the end of fiscal year 2015 (June 30, 2015).
For fiscal year 2013, which ends June 30, Marbaugh expects expenditures to exceed revenues by $2.6 million, decreasing the cash balance from $9.1 million to $6.5 million. Fiscal year 2014 shows expenditures at $30.6 million and revenues at $26.7 million, decreasing the cash balance to $2.6 million.
The cash balance is depleted in fiscal year 2015, and Marbaugh predicts a deficit of $9.1 million by the end of fiscal year 2016 and $17.1 million by the end of 2017.
Superintendent Jesse Steiner said only 27 residents completed a survey letting the school board know why they voted "no" on the school construction bond levy in November. The 33-year, $27.7 million bond issue to build a one-site elementary school failed by nearly 68 percent.
The survey results were very mixed, yielding no real results, Steiner said. The bond issue committee suggested focusing on the income tax renewal levy.
"They said they would rather see the levy pass instead of losing it to the bond," he said. "We don't need to decide tonight, but we do need to decide by January ... At some point we're going to have to put the issue back on the ballot."
Board members agreed to focus on the renewal levy and allow the district's agreement with the Ohio School Facilities Commission to lapse. The OSFC had offered to give the school nearly $19 million toward the construction project.
"We're always in such a limbo; we'll always need money," board member Cindy Piper said. "I think the renewal levy should be our priority."
The board likely will consider entering into a new agreement with the state in 2014. At that time, the state would reassess the district's needs and set a new funding percentage for a new elementary. The funding could increase, decrease, remain unchanged or no longer be available.
The board plans to vote on a resolution to set the amount of the income tax levy renewal during its annual organizational meeting and regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 7 at the high school lecture hall.
Also at Monday's meeting, the board,
• learned students donated 1,292 toys to Dayton Children's Hospital last week and were able to talk to two patients about their experience with their diseases.
• learned the student council raised $500 to buy Christmas presents for needy families within the Celina school district; raised $700 for the Imagination Library, which sends books every month to Celina children ages 1-5; and will use their winter homecoming dance as a fund raiser for those affected by the school shooting in Connecticut. The dance theme is Superheroes for Sandy Hook Elementary.
• learned the Celina Education Association donated $700 to the Imagination Library.
• approved a waiver day for March 4 to develop student growth measures.
• approved one new student for Diane Donovan's special education preschool located at Cheryl Ann.
• hired Lynne Ray at $24 per hour to teach technology classes to employees at Veyance Technology in St. Marys. Veyance will cover all costs.
• approved various minor policy changes.
• appointed council president Matt Gilmore as president pro-tem for the organizational meeting.
• approved various contract changes.
• met in executive session to discuss employment and discipline. No action was taken following the discussion.
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