By Janie Southard
Celina City Schools most likely will go on the ballot in May with a 13.6-mill, five-year property tax levy, which represents no new money.
Board members approved a resolution of necessity Monday night to combine two existing three-year levies: a 6.8-mill property tax levy due to expire this year and a 7.9-mill property tax that ceases in 2007.
Due to recent county property reappraisals showing a higher valuation in the city, the combined levy millage would be lowered from 14.7 mills to 13.6.
The proposed combination levy would generate $4.9 million and would offset the projected $4.3 million budget deficit projected by fiscal year 2010.
"The combination will give us no more and no less money. What it will do is keep us from knocking on voters' doors seven of the next eight years trying to renew levies," Superintendent Matt Miller told board members and an audience of a couple dozen, mostly school staff. "If we have to go on the ballot every year, people will just get tired." Board member Matt Gilmore said the proposed 13.6 mill levy is the "best of both worlds."
"It's not a continuing levy term, so it keeps us accountable and relieves the burden of constantly mounting a levy campaign," Gilmore said.
Treasurer Mike Marbaugh said if the levy passes this year, the new combination levy would go into effect at the beginning of 2007. The last year of the current 7.9-mill levy then would be taken off the books, he said.
From the audience, Celina West Elementary School Principal Sue Aukerman offered a suggestion when campaigning: "We need to make it clear that there will be no double collection of funds."
If the levy does not pass in May, board members indicated they have two more opportunities this year (a special election in August and the general election in November) to get levies before voters.
During the organizational meeting which preceded the regular meeting, Tom Rable was elected board president and Amy Hoyng will be vice president for 2006. New board member Cindy Piper was sworn in as was re-elected member Gilmore.