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A Monroe Levy Discussion with School Treasurer Kelley Thorpe
Friday, February 15, 2008 10:35:20 AM - Monroe Ohio

by John Beagle

School funding is a complex procedure. It involves inside and outside millage from Expense and Emergency Levies. Inside millage is the millage provided by the Constitution of the State of Ohio and is levied without the vote of the people as established very early in the State's history. The inside millage rate is limited to ten mills in each political subdivision. Public schools, cities, counties and other local governments are allocated a portion of the ten inside mills.

So with this terminology in hand, I asked our Monroe Local Schools Treasurer, Kelley Thorpe to help me understand levies and millage for Monroe Local Schools.

John: Can you provide me a list of our active school district tax levies ?
Kelley Thorpe:

Current Expense levy – passed Nov. 14, 1969 – continuous – originally was 11.51 mills
Current Expense levy – passed Nov. 7, 1979 – continuous – originally was 6.76 mills
These two levies have been rolled back to 14.84 total mills collected instead of the original 18.27 voted mills. When combined with our 5.16 inside mills, the 14.84 effective rate puts us at the 20-mill floor.

Emergency levy – passed Nov. 2, 2004 – five years – $1,500,000
Emergency levy – passed Aug. 8, 2006 – five years – $930,418
Emergency levy – passed Nov. 7, 2006 – five years – $1,119,280

John: Why was were the inside levies rolled back to 14.84. If we only have 5.15 inside mils can we get the other 4.85 for a total of 10-mils without a vote?
Kelley: The inside millage for the district is 5.16 and will remain 5.16. This is out of 10 total inside mills – which is the Ohio basis for all property. The remaining 4.84 inside mills are divided up between the City of Monroe and the County. I don’t know their portions of the 10 inside mills.

Only the voted millage that is not an emergency levy is rolled back. So the 2 continuous levies that were originally voted as a combined millage of 18.27 have been rolled back to the 14.84 due to HB920. Basically, HB920 says that if  5 mills collected $1,000,000 this year and property values go up, then we only need 4.8 mills to collect the same million dollars next year. It is the equivalent of flat funding. The school district isn’t able to capitalize on the valuation growth of the district. We can only collect what we did last year plus any new construction.

John: How does our effective 14.84 rate put us at the 20-mill inside millage floor?  I need the math on that.
Kelley: The 20-mill floor was brought about because someone realized that as time went HB920 would eventually roll everyone back to zero. The 20-mill floor was put in to keep that from happening. Voted millage and inside mills are combined to establish the district’s millage for comparison to the floor. If you add our 14.84 effective mills (after being rolled back) and the 5.16 inside mills, you will get 20 mills. Now that we are at the floor, we will see some monetary growth from an increase in property values on this 20 mills because we can’t fall below the 20 mills. However, in 2007, the district’s valuation actually dropped by $6,000,000.

John: Are emergency levies included in the 20-Mil Floor calculation?
Kelley: Emergency levies are different. They are a set dollar amount and that amount is collected for each year of the levy. There is no roll back associated with them nor are they included in the calculations for the 20 mill floor.

John: Our $1, 500,000 Levy is going to expire in November of 2009. Will we be bringing that up for renewal, or is there a plan to combine our multiple emergency levies?
Kelley: I don’t know exactly what we will be presenting to the voters next year. Nor do I know an amount.
The other thing that I am watching very closely right now is Governor Strickland’s budget cuts from last week. $51 million this year and $49 million next year were passed onto the Ohio Department of Education. We haven’t been told yet how those cuts are going to affect individual districts. If the state were to cut our funding from them, then we could possibly be looking at a levy scenario that includes a possible increase from the voters or face cuts again.

John: Sounds like a complex decision to combine multiple levies with different expiration dates.
Kelley: Welcome to the world of school funding in Ohio

Discuss: All My Levies

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