MOUNT VERNON — Residents of the Mount Vernon, North Fork and Northridge school districts will be eligible to vote in a special election on May 7 to determine the future of school district funding.
The Mount Vernon City School District’s ballot issue is a permanent improvement (PI) levy. This 2.9 mill levy will replace the current 2 mill permanent improvement levy that was established in 1977.
District Treasurer Judy Forney noted that the amount of taxes residents pay will essentially remain the same, since this year’s levy request coincides with the district’s final payment of its 1996 bonds. Beginning in January 2020, the district will no longer be collecting property taxes for the bond payments.
“The Replacement PI Levy will increase taxes by $2.47 per month on a $100,000 home. The payoff of the 1996 bond will decrease taxes by $2.47 per month on a $100,000 home. The result will be a net $0 change to your current taxes,” Forney explained in a district-wide mailing.
The levy will generate approximately $725,000 in additional funds per year. These funds will primarily be used to update and maintain some of the district’s older facilities. Under Ohio law, a school district can only use PI funds for certain capital improvement projects, to maintain and repair school property and to purchase items that will last at least five years, such as school buses and textbooks.
The North Fork Local School District is asking the community to renew its 1 percent income tax for current operating expenses. If passed, the levy will be in place for three years.
Superintendent Scott Hartley said that funds from the levy, which has been in place since 2007, currently make up about 20 percent of the district’s operating budget. The operating budget covers day-to-day district expenses and educational tools such as computer programs and smart boards, as well as salaries for classroom aides.
“The continuation of the levy is important for the district,” he said. “We put a lot of that money directly back into the classroom.”
Northridge Local Schools will have a combined 27 year bond and 27 year permanent improvement (PI) levy on the May 7 ballot.
The 4.3 mills bond would go towards building a new elementary school. It would be located at the middle and high school campus, centralizing the district’s facilities in one location.
“The current conditions at our primary school and trailers for fourth and fifth graders are not an appropriate learning space,” said Scott Schmidt, superintendent for the district. “It’s important that we provide a new elementary building for our students.”
The new elementary would include 26 classrooms, small group tutoring spaces, a cafeteria, an art room, a music room, a library and a gymnasium. If the levy passes, Schmidt says he hopes to see the new elementary completed in two years.
The bond would require taxpayers to pay $150 per year per $100,000 of home value. Schmidt noted that since the taxpayers will no longer be paying collections for the high school bond, which was paid off last year, the effective increase in cost is only $50 per year per $100,000 of home value.
The second component of the ballot issue, a new 0.5 percent earned income tax levy, would be used to update and maintain district facilities. Safety updates would include secured entrances and new camera systems at the middle and high school. The levy would also allow for dedicated funds for repairing or replacing mechanical systems and upgrading facilities at the middle and high school, as well as ongoing upkeep and maintenance for the new elementary building.
Since the permanent improvement levy is on earned income only, retirement income such as social security and investment income would not be taxed.
For more information on upcoming elections, contact the Knox County Board of Elections or visit https://co.knox.oh.us/boe/
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