MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon City school board has begun the process of putting a levy renewal on the November ballot.
The board passed a resolution of necessity at a special meeting June 8 and will vote on another resolution, which would authorize the ballot issue to be submitted to the board of elections, on July 29.
The levy to be renewed would actually be two existing emergency levies. At its June 8 meeting, the board voted to combine the two levies, one of which expires at the end of the fiscal year, so that they can be voted on together in the future.
Combining multiple levies of the same type is not uncommon, said Kim Horn, the director of the Knox County board of elections.
“Townships have done that. When they have levies in place for the same thing, they’ve combined a couple,” said Horn. “It’s not uncommon.”
Judy Forney, treasurer for the Mount Vernon City School District, stressed that the renewal would not constitute a new tax or an increase in taxes. It’s simply a continuation of levies the community has been paying for years.
The goal of combining the levies is to increase efficiency and eliminate voter fatigue, Forney explained, since the community won’t have to vote on renewals as often.
School districts are not allowed to spend their own funds to promote levies or renewals. However, combining levies will save the district a bit of money, since there is a fee paid to the county to put renewals on the ballot. Additionally, combining the levies will save time and energy spent by volunteers on pre-election committees.
She added that the district has combined its emergency levies before. The two levies the district combined are actually the result of levy combinations that took place in 2015 and 2017.
In 2015, the district merged a levy from 1982 with a levy from 1996 to create a single $2.9 million levy. Two years later, the district consolidated a 1981 levy with one from 2013, resulting in a $3.846 million levy.
Forney also noted that emergency levies don’t mean that the district is in financial emergency. It’s simply a name for a different type of levy.
Like general or bond levies, emergency levies constitute a tax on property value. An emergency levy, however, is for a set dollar amount each year, while other levies are typically set at a certain millage, or percent of taxable property value.
If the combined levy renewal passes in November, the revenue will be used for everyday operating expenses such as electricity, bussing and salaries.
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