By Timothy Cox
COLDWATER -- School district officials plan to seek renewal of a general operations levy, but this time will ask the public to make the tax issue permanent.
Coldwater school board members reached a consensus to place the 10.48-mill property tax levy on the November ballot. They plan to formally vote on the issue at the May 24 board meeting. The existing levy, a five-year renewal effort, expires at the end of the year.
The levy raises about $1.15 million annually, money that is critical to running the district, Treasurer Sherry Shaffer said.
"Without that money, we would be in dire straits pretty quickly," Shaffer said.
Board members decided against seeking another five-year renewal. Some community members had asked them to consider a continuing tax issue to avoid levy campaigns every few years. "The logic is 'why do we keep renewing this when it's something we have to have. This money is critical,' " Shaffer said.
Whether the levy is on the books for five years or forever, it would cost taxpayers the same amount each year. Board members stressed that the levy renewal would not generate any additional money and would not cost property owners any more money in taxes.
The levy's millage has continually gone down through the years as property values increase. That would continue to occur with renewal of the tax, Shaffer said.
The deadline to file an elections issue with the Mercer County Board of Elections is not until August, but school district officials plan to pass the issue in two weeks. By doing so, they can get an early start on campaigning and informing the public about the levy.
Superintendent Rich Seas plans to be available to speak to community groups about the levy.
Coldwater has no other general operations levies.