Property levy: B-C-S looking to August ballot

By: 
Larry Limpf

Residents of the Benton-Carroll-Salem School District will have several opportunities to ask questions about an emergency property tax levy that will be on the Aug. 6 ballot.
The B-C-S administration has set sessions for Facebook as well as informal meetings with the public to discuss the district’s financial situation.
Guy Parmigian, district superintendent, said the administration will host three Facebook Live sessions on the district’s Facebook page to provide information and answer questions: June 5 at noon, June 28 at 10 a.m. and July 25 at 5:30 p.m.
Public meetings will be held June 5 at 6 p.m. and July 25 at 6:15 p.m. at The Hub at Oak Harbor High School.
Cajon Keeton, district treasurer, will join Parmigian for three informal get-togethers to answer questions and hear comments from the public. The first will be on June 5 at 2 p.m. at Hartford House. The second and third will be June 11 at 8:30 a.m. at Evolve Café and July 25 at 10 a.m. at Blackberry Corners.
On the district website, the administration has posted information about the 3.9-mill, 5-year property tax levy that will generate about $1.5 million a year for operating expenses if approved by voters.
Due to a combination of factors, including the devaluation of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and phase-out of reimbursement payments from the state for the loss of public utility tangible personal property taxes, B-C-S schools are losing about $6 million in revenue – roughly a third of its budget.
A three-year “bridge” payment from the state of $1.8 million a year to assist in the transition from the lost revenues ends in 2021.
As he has in past levy campaigns, Parmigian is stressing that the B-C-S school board has implemented cost-cutting measures over the past seven years, including eliminating several staff positions.
“These efficiency measures will continue, but the magnitude of the annual revenue losses means that the school district simply cannot cut its way out of the situation without drastically reducing educational opportunities for students,” he writes on the district website. “The school board is always looking for ways to…be fiscally conservative for our voters, and not just when money is needed.”
If the August levy fails the district will enact more spending cuts with the start of the 2019-20 school year. A list of the cuts will be posted on the website by or before June 1.
B-C-S voters renewed a permanent improvement levy and an operating levy on the May 7 ballot but rejected a 1 percent earned income tax.
It was the third time in a year that voters have rejected a tax on income. In the most recent election, the proposed tax was defeated in eight precincts and won in three. It tied in the Salem 1 precinct, according to results compiled by the Ottawa County board of elections.

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