London Schools levy attempt headed to March ballot
By Jane Beathard
Voters in the London City School District can again expect to see a property tax levy on the March 6, 2012 primary ballot, following action by the board of education on Thursday.
During a special 7:30 a.m. meeting, school board members unanimously approved a resolution of necessity for a levy to raise $2.5 million annually for the next five years.
Final determination of millage needed to raise those dollars will come from Madison County Auditor Jennifer Hunter. But, it is likely to equate to an additional 8.5 mills in property taxes, according to district treasurer Kristine Blind.
District voters turned down an 8.5-mill levy on Nov. 8, with “no” votes outnumbering “yes” votes by more than 22 percent.
The decision to move forward on March 6 came after about an hour’s debate as school board members weighed the pros and cons of targeting either of Ohio’s 2012 primary elections. The March 6 primary will determine partisan candidates for the U.S. Senate, Ohio General Assembly, county offices and judicial benches. A June 12 presidential primary will select delegates to the national nominating conventions and partisan candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.
The school board is under pressure to meet a Dec. 7 filing deadline for the March election. However, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted recommended on Nov. 10 that paperwork for either primary be filed by that date.
Board members Melissa Canney and Martha Geib, M.D., argued for the June presidential primary, saying levy supporters had a better chance of organizing a campaign and rallying voters by waiting until spring.
But other board members, including Curtis Brooks and Marv Homan, said skipping the March 6 primary would send a mixed message to district residents about the urgent need for additional revenue.
Superintendent Steve Allen said waiting until the June election would also demoralize district employees.
“It sends a negative message to staff if we don’t keep trying,” Allen observed.
Blind said delaying the issue until June would give board members time to weigh the merits of a “split” levy — meaning a smaller property tax coupled with an additional income tax to raise the needed $2.5 million.
Kat Marriott, a co-chairman of the Nov. 8 levy campaign, also spoke up on behalf of the March 6 date.
“If we need the levy, we need the levy…in order to stay out of state receivership,” she said.
Marriott indicated a willingness to again co-chair a levy campaign.
That effort must begin in early January, Geib said.
Next step in the filing process requires passage of a resolution to proceed with the levy. That will likely come at a special board meeting scheduled for 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 7 — just in time to meet the 4 p.m. filing deadline with the Madison County Board of Elections.