The Oregon school board, disappointed by voters’ rejection of a 5.95-mill emergency levy Aug. 4, has until Aug. 20 to place another levy on the November ballot. But first, they want to analyze last Tuesday’s election results before they make any decisions, according to School Board President Jeff Ziviski.
“It’s disappointing the levy failed because we have a desperate need for additional revenue within the district, though we realize we are in some tough economic times no one has faced before,” said Ziviski.
Voters rejected the levy by 3,605 to 1,119, according to unofficial results released by the board of elections last week.
The board had hoped the levy would be easier to pass following millions in budget cuts it made in the last several months.
The levy would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home approximately $182 per year.
The district faces a $1 million budget deficit by June 30, 2011, said Ziviski.
The levy’s defeat, said Ziviski, “is not unexpected.”
“Communities are taking pay cuts from their employers, and paying more for health care costs and food and fuel. Their own revenue is going down. They couldn’t afford to support the schools financially with another levy, and we understand that. I think a lot of people do support the schools, they just don’t have the means to support it financially at this time because of the troubled economy,” he said. “The voters spoke overwhelmingly.”
That leaves the district with two options, he added.
“Either put another levy on the ballot in November, or we look internally to see if there’s any other means to make more cuts and try to hold off until next year and maybe show the community we were able to make additional cuts, tightening our belts a little bit more, showing that we’re doing everything we can. Maybe the economy will shift a little bit, where people can financially support us. We haven’t made any decisions yet.”
The board faces an August 20 deadline with the board of elections to submit a request to place a levy on the November ballot.
“We took no action at our meeting Wednesday night because we want to take a step back, analyze the results, listen to comments from the public, and take the additional time to make a good informed decision on what we want to do because it has a significant impact on the community, on the taxpayers, and on the quality of education that we can provide. We want to make sure we have time to make the right decision,” he said.
The school board did get some good news after the election. Two BP-Husky Toledo Refinery officials presented the board at Wednesday night’s meeting with a $200,000 check to help the district defray transportation costs.
Ziviski said the board had made requests of several local businesses for donations to help counter the effects of House Bill 66, which phased out tangible personal property taxes for businesses and created budgetary shortfalls for several school districts.
“That started a year ago. BP is the only one that responded. It is a one-time donation, but it definitely helps. Our bus fuel is close to half a million for just one year. So this pays a good portion of that,” said Ziviski.