Voters in the school district have rejected three consecutive levies, the past two by 52-48 and 53-47 ratios. A group of vocal levy opponents have called for the district to cut salaries, saying property taxes are too high. District officials point to a state performance audit showing Bellbrook salaries are in line with comparable school districts and that residents’ tax burden is comparatively low.
The May 4 vote is on a seven-year 4.9-mill levy that would raise $3.22 million per year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $171.50 per year.
If the May levy is rejected, the board said Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools will eliminate 2-3 teaching positions this summer, not via layoffs, but by declining to replace staffers who retire or resign.
Cozad said extreme cuts would not be made in case of a May levy failure. That’s because if a subsequent November levy would pass, the district would still get the levy money in early 2022, the same as if it had passed in May.
Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools have cut staff, busing and activities the past few years. Those moves, offset by cost increases elsewhere, have kept district spending flat at $29.8 million for 2018-19, 2019-20 and projected for 2020-21, according to the district’s own five-year forecast.
But expenditures have exceeded revenues those three years, causing the district’s cash balance to continue to drop, and leading to repeated levy requests.