Mad River schools’ board of education urged to retry tax levy in November

Superintendent and treasurer advocate trying exact same 5.9-mill levy that voters rejected 55-45.



RIVERSIDE — Mad River Local School District administrators are recommending the board of education put on the November ballot the same property tax increase voters defeated earlier this month.

The 5.9-mill operating levy — appearing on the ballot in a year when the district has made budget cuts and is planning for others — was rejected 551 to 451 on May 2, according to the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

It was the first school tax issue before voters in Riverside since 2012.

While the margin was about 10%, Superintendent Chad Wyen on Monday night cited low voter turnout. In November 2021, when several city council and school board races were on the ballot, the turnout was about 50% higher, county records show.

This November’s ballot will include a handful of city council and school board seats.

Meanwhile, the defeat of Mad River’s levy was “much closer than our peer districts in Montgomery County,” Wyen said.

Huber Heights’ school levy was rejected by a 2-1 margin while 59% voted against Vandalia Butler schools’ additional income tax plan and 57% of the ballots cast for the Northmont levy were “no” votes, according to results.

Both Wyen and Mad River Treasurer Jerry Ellender endorsed putting the same millage on the November ballot. Ellender urged the board of education to give voters a choice with which they are familiar.

“It’s less confusing to the taxpayers,” Ellender said. “Run the same levy. Don’t change the millage at all.”

Wyen said the school board will weigh that decision at their June meeting. That would allow the board sufficient time for the county to certify the millage and have the school board vote to place it on the ballot before the Aug. 9 deadline, he said.

This month’s election outcome came amid budget cuts already made for next school year, with other cuts outlined — including some jobs — if the levy was defeated.

Passage of the issue would have increased costs for the owner of a home valued at $100,000 by $207.50 annually, according to the county auditor’s office. Ellender said the additional millage would raise about $1.5 million a year.

Wyen said in the days after this month’s election that the levy would maintain existing programs if passed.

Wyen said the district plans to cut five classified staff (secretaries, bus drivers, custodians, aides) and five certified staff (teachers, counselors, etc.). Total cuts are about $1.48 million, of which $925,095 would be made up by staff cuts.

Even without the levy failing, Mad River was planning for cuts, officials said. Wyen said $250,507 in cuts have been made already for next school year, and more will be made based on a cost savings plan the board of education approved earlier this year.

Real estate tax revenue is the second largest source of funding for the district — behind state funding — “and growth has been mainly stagnant,” according to Mad River records.

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