AYERSVILLE — Voters in the Ayersville Local Schools District will decide on Nov. 5 to pass a 1% income tax levy for operating expenses of the district.
The levy, which is for three years, is for an additional 1% in income tax revenue. The current 1% income tax levy passed in 2007, and was renewed in 2012 and 2017. If passed, the additional 1% would cost an individual making $100,000 per year $2.74 per day (or approximately $1,000 per year).
A town hall meeting was held Monday at the school to discuss why the district is seeking the additional revenue, with superintendent Don Diglia explaining why the district is looking at a revenue shortfall of $1,737,968 by fiscal year 2023.
“State funding has not kept up with the increase in our operating expenses, or in the reductions in general fund revenue in the form of tangible personal property (TPP) tax revenue, and the loss of public utility personal property tax from General Motors,” explained Diglia. “As a result, we are asking the community for an additional 1% income tax operating levy.
“We realize it’s a big request, but it’s needed because what we’re dealing with is the result of a broken state funding formula,” continued Diglia. “For years, education in Ohio has been funded by how much state legislators have on hand, not what it costs to educate a child. About 84% of the 610 school districts in the state have either been on the guarantee, or are capped. This year, however, the state is treating everyone the same and has basically frozen funding.”
Specifically, Diglia pointed to a loss of almost $414,000 in the general revenue fund since 2016, with $241,000 lost due to the phase out of the TPP tax received from the state; and $173,000 from the loss of public utility personal property tax from GM. Over the course of the next six years, the loss of TPP is estimated to be $378,000, while the district will continue to see a loss of $173,000 in revenue each year from the loss of the GM tax.
“When the current 1% income tax levy was passed in 2007, we were receiving $1,340,188 from TPP, and in 2019 we will receive $255,577, a loss of more than $1.1 million,” said Diglia. “If we didn’t lose just the TPP taxes beginning in 2016, the difference between now and 2023 when we’re expected to see a deficit of $1,737,968, is a positive $3,222,431.”
One question that Diglia has been asked frequently is, “What about money from the bond issue?”
Said Diglia: “The bond issue passed in 2015 to build the new school could only be used for the new building, it could not be used for operational expenses. With or without the bond issue, we would still need to address the losses in revenue.”
Other questions asked include, “What about all the improvements to the 1967 building?” and “How does open enrollment affect our operating costs?”
“This summer we completed two energy conservation measures and capital improvement projects,” said Diglia. “Work done included LED lighting retrofitting inside and outside the 1967 building; auditorium renovations; paving of the south parking lot; solar thermal heating of the pool; new entrance doors on the west and south; and air conditioning and all new controls. This is estimated to reduce costs and maintenance by about $32,000 per year.
“In addition, the new solar array is schedule to provide 85% of our electrical energy requirements (1,230,300 kilowatt hours), locking in our rate at 9 cents per kWh for the next 25 years,” added Diglia. “As far as open enrollment, it accounted for 18.2% of our total revenue and 5% of our total expenses. We have 517 resident students who generate $1.2 million in revenue, while 275 open-enrollment students generate $1.6 million in revenue.”
The superintendent pointed out that public school districts in Ohio have received an increase in funding in the latest biennium budget called Student Wellness and Success Fund, but that money can not be used for operating expenses. Ayersville will receive approximately $51,145 in fiscal year 2020, and approximately $72,901 in fiscal year 2021.
“That money must be spent on 11 pre-determined uses including mental health; homelessness; child welfare; community liaisons; physical health care; mentoring programs; family engagement and support services; city connects programming; trauma-informed care; professional development on cultural competence; or on before- and after-school programs,” said Diglia. “It’s not intended to just offset operating expenses.”
Information about the levy will be presented at the next senior citizens’ breakfast scheduled for Oct. 24 at 8:30 a.m. at the school.
For more information, or to ask questions, contact Diglia at Ddiglia@ayersvillepilots.org.