Written by Kelly Kaczala
Sunday, 02 November 2008 11:23
Voters in the Oregon City Schools District on Tuesday will consider the renewal of a 2-mill permanent improvement levy.
Voters first passed the levy in 1968, and have continued to support it since.
School Board President Eric Heintschel said the money is needed for capital improvement projects. Revenue from the levy is not used for operational expenses or salaries.
“It is used for things like bus purchases, building repairs, and replacements that come up through normal wear and tear in the district,” said Heintschel.
“This is a renewal, so there’s no increase in property taxes to the taxpayer. We did a replacement five years ago,” he said.
The district has seen extensive building renovations and new facilities in the last few years, though funding is still needed to maintain them, he said.
“Some people might argue that we just did some building renovations, what do we need capital improvement monies for? Yeah, we did some improvements, but there’s still maintenance issues that come up. This fund directly addresses those issues, whether it’s an emergency or long-term,” said Heintschel.
Without the levy, the district would still have to spend funds for capital improvements, added Heintschel.
“It’s important people not take this for granted. If we don’t have this money available, we would have to go into the general budget. That would directly impact funding for educational programs and we obviously don’t want to do that,” he said.
“We consistently have had to fix boilers in the schools, and repair or replace roofing and resurface parking lots with the permanent improvement levy,” said Jeff Ziviski, vice-president of the board. “We need to maintain the buildings to keep our schools safe and to provide an environment conducive to learning. I’m confident the community understands how the money is used and realizes the need for this and will be very supportive on Election Day.”
The levy will generate $1.25 million annually for five years.
The permanent improvement levy also provides resources for many student groups as well, according to Ziviski. A portion of the funds is used by the band to help with the purchase of such items as instruments and uniforms. The revenue is also used by the district's IT department to purchase computers for the classrooms and textbooks.
Voters earlier this year approved a 5.9 mill operating levy in the district to avoid an anticipated budget deficit in 2010.
Additionally, the school board has made about $3 million in budget cuts since last year in an effort to keep the district solvent.