Kettering to vote on new school levy in November

District says levy is needed to combat a budget shortfall expected next year.

Kettering voters will vote on a new school 5.99 mill levy in the upcoming November election, expected to generate $8.7 million per year for operational expenses.

The levy would cost $209.65 annually to person with property valued at $100,000. The levy is continuous, meaning it would not need to be renewed by voters again if it passes.

Kettering schools treasurer Cary Furniss said the increase is needed because the district is expected to have a revenue shortfall of about $11 million in the next school year, 2023-2024. That means the district would have to make drastic cuts if it’s not passed, according to Furniss.

“Definitely the common question I get is, well if you still got 24 months of cash, why are you asking me now? Why can’t you wait?” Furniss said. “Well, that’s because it is it takes 18 months before you get a full collection.”

Additionally, the state of Ohio requires all schools to have a balanced budget. A low cash balance means the state can impose sanctions on the school.

The district has already spent the more than $18 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding received in 2020 and 2021, so that is not available to help with the shortfall.

Furniss said the district gets about 80% of its money from levies, and about 20% of its funding comes from the state.

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Furniss said the district’s predictions indicate the district would need to ask for another levy in the next three years. There is some ambiguity there, he said, with a possibility that the state would contribute more under the Fair School Funding Act, and if that happens, the levy will last longer.

“But without that guarantee our forecast indicates three years,” Furniss said. “The board and the district will make every effort to make it last as long as possible.”

Kettering had one of the highest rates of property taxation in the area for the 2021 tax year, collected this year, according to data from the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office. Only Oakwood City Schools residents paid a higher rate of property taxes for schools than Kettering.

Toby Henderson, Kettering School Board president, said as a taxpayer in Kettering schools he is sensitive to any new taxes.

“I wouldn’t say that any of us on the board would be happy about the fact that we have to go to the voters again,” Henderson said. “In terms of whether I think it’s fair or not, what I can tell you is in order in order for us to deliver what we have been delivering, then we don’t really have any options.”

Voters in Kettering last approved a 5.99 mill levy in 2018. Kettering school residents voted to approve a 6.9 mill levy in March 2004, a 4.9 mill levy in November 2007, another 4.9 mill levy in November 2010, a 4.89 mill levy in November 2013 and the 5.99 mill levy in November 2018.

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