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Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Levy fails by wide margin

St. Marys schools

By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - The requested combined property and income tax levy for St. Marys school district failed in Tuesday's primary 39.7 precent to 60.3 percent.
Of the 3,838 who voted, 2,316 voted against the five year, 5-mill property tax and 1 percent earned income tax. The levy would have brought in $3.25 million per year and prevented a possible future deficit.
"It doesn't look good," board member Brian Little said with a shake of his head as he waited for final tallies Tuesday evening at the Board of Elections. Little reported results to other school officials who waited at superintendent Shawn Brown's home.
Brown said he wanted to thank the levy committee, the residents who supported the measure and everyone who worked on the campaign. He will discuss with board members the next steps needed and when they will make another levy attempt.
"I don't know when, but we'll have to try again," he said.
If passed, the new tax would have prevented a deficit predicted for as early as 2015. Without the additional revenue, the district now will implement already approved cuts, including pay-to-participate for most extracurricular activities, eliminating non-required busing, mobile learning devices and the vocational agriculture program.
Kindergarten could be reduced to half days, and cuts could be made to all music and art programs, physical education, libraries, foreign language courses, administrative positions and more.
Treasurer Tom Sommer has said the school system is spending about $1 million more than it's receiving in revenue each year. Revenue has stagnated in recent years as operating expenses continue to rise, he has said. He predicted the district will use $2 million of its $3.4 million carryover to stay in the black at the end of this fiscal year, June 30.
The school system typically operates on a budget of about $20 million.
The board already made previous cuts through attrition to prevent a $760,000 deficit by July 2014.
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