2018-01-31 / Front Page

School board keeps special levy rate steady for May 8 levy election

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County School Board unanimously approved an order for continuing the special levy for the fiscal years beginning July 1, 2019 through July 1, 2022. The proposed $4.15 million, four-year special levy order was approved at the same tax rates that voters approved in the May, 2014 special levy election. Voters will decide whether or not to continue the special levy during the primary election.

Their actions came at the January 23 school board meeting.

Public comments

No members of the public offered any comments on the proposed special levy order during the meeting’s public comment period.

School Superintendent Erich May said the board only got one written comment by mail that proposed a flat tax instead of a special levy. He noted that it wasn’t in their power to make that decision. Board members each received a copy of the letter.

May said that the special levy order was posted on the county school website with a place for levy comments to be entered. The only comments they received there were questions asking whether schools were having a two-hour delay.

Board vice-president Aaron Close said one person asked him about the special levy and their question was if the levy was going to stay the same.

Same tax rate

The board approved the same special levy tax rates for the May, 2018 special levy that were approved by voters in May, 2014—32.16 cents per $100 of assessed value for Class 2 properties and 64.32 cents per $100 of assessed value for Class 3 and Class 4 properties. The levy rates would apply for the fiscal years beginning July 1, 2019 through July 1, 2022.

What the levy will fund

If approved by voters, the special levy will provide approximately $4,147,298 annually over four years with an estimated $1,904,860 for employee salaries and benefits; $1,147,438 for critical education programs support; $535,000 for facilities maintenance, security and capital improvements; $125,000 for technology hardware, software, infrastructure, repair and training; $400,000 for instructional materials, and $35,000 for the combined support of the Morgan County Public Library and the Paw Paw Public Library.

The school board added support for both libraries back into the special levy. Neither library has received any special levy funding since they were removed from the May, 2014 special levy. Both libraries have struggled since to meet their required local matches for state grants.

May noted that the special levy represent 18% of the school system’s general fund.

School Treasurer Ann Bell sent a copy of the special levy order to the school board’s attorney and to the state auditor’s office before its adoption.

Next step

Bell said that the next step is presenting a copy of the special levy order to the County Clerk and the board of ballot commissioners and delivering a copy to the Morgan County Commission. These actions are required by February 27, which is 70 days before the election.

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