By Janie Southard
Celina schools' proposed 12.3-mill, five-year property tax levy combines two existing levies and represents no new money.
If it passes Tuesday at the polls, it would generate $4.5 million with the first collection beginning in January 2007. Homeowners with a $100,000 market value house would pay $376.69 per year, which is less than the 14.6 mills currently being collected for the district.
The combined levy is asking voters to renew a levy expiring this year and one expiring next year as a combined levy.
"By law, if the combined levy is approved, that second levy expiring next year cannot be collected. In other words, there is no double dipping involved," Superintendent Matt Miller said last week.
The levies to be combined are a 6.8-mill property tax levy due to expire this year, and a three-year, 7.9-mill property tax that ceases at the end of 2007. Miller said the levy is unique because it gives the voter an opportunity to renew and at the same time reduce a school tax issue.
The board considered the recent property tax reappraisals in Mercer County at a recent board meeting and voted to reduce the initial millage amount to be sought.
"In this latest round of reappraisals, we received an increase to our general fund, which is why the board decided to reduce the renewal by $400,000," Miller said.
If passed, the levy will decrease the number of times the district has to go to the polls during the next five years, according to the superintendent.
The board still plans to cut costs by eliminating seven or eight teaching and classified positions and reduce the 2006-07 school year budget by an additional $600,000.
At an earlier board meeting, board member Matt Gilmore observed this is not a continuing levy. "It keeps us accountable and relieves the burden of constantly mounting a levy campaign," he said.
Miller pointed out the board cannot spend taxpayer dollars to campaign for this levy. Each levy campaign costs around $16,000 in donated dollars.
Voters with questions are welcome to attend a levy information session 1-3 p.m. Sunday at the high school tennis courts.
Free homemade ice cream will be provided by Weee's Homemade Ice Cream.