Miami County voters to decide on levies for schools, libraries, arts

Piqua Library levy is the only one that asks for a tax rate increase

The May 4 election in Miami County includes three tax levies that mention school districts, but only one of the three is actually a school levy.

The Troy school district is seeking a five-year, no-increase renewal of their 5.8-mill property tax levy that pays for day-to-day operations.

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The other two levies would benefit Troy’s Hayner Cultural Center and Piqua’s Public Library, as explained in the ballot language. The school districts are mentioned in those two ballot headers because they serve as the “fiscal agents” for the center and the library.

Troy City Schools

The 5.8-mill renewal levy would continue to raise $3.7 million per year for Troy City Schools operations if approved, according to the Miami County Auditor’s office. The levy would continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home $129 a year.

Residents have rejected Troy schools’ recent requests for building bonds and other new levies — they have not approved an increase in income tax or property tax rates for school operations since 2006. But voters have approved the district’s renewal levies by wide margins.

The district made a round of budget cuts and salary freezes last year, and Superintendent Chris Piper said federal COVID relief funds have pushed back the need for another immediate round of cuts, despite an income tax levy rejection in November.

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“That certainly helps in the short term,” Piper said. “It doesn’t solve long-term problems for us, but it certainly helps get us through. We appreciate it.”

Piper said the district still hopes to pass a bond issue someday, both to replace aging schools and to operate more efficiently. But he said approval of the renewal levy would just keep day-to-day operating funding steady, and would not lead to any new programs or reinstatement of cuts.

“It means we can continue to provide a high-quality education for our students and a high level of service to our families, which I think we do today,” Piper said. “We can avoid having to make reductions to student programs and staffing for the time being.”

Piqua Library levy

The Piqua Public Library is seeking a five-year “renewal and increase” property tax levy. If approved, the existing 1.3-mill tax would continue, and a new 0.5 mills would be added. The cost for the owner of a $100,000 home would rise from $34.96 per year to $52.46, according to the Miami County Auditor’s office.

The library’s financial documents show them projecting a $223,000 deficit for 2021. Library director Jim Oda said without some change, the library will run out of reserve funds in two to three years.

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“We have not had an increase in 10 years, and the cost of operating has gone up,” Oda said. “Utilities, salaries, insurance, everything has gone up.”

Oda said passage of the levy would not lead to new programs, but rather keep hours, services and materials at existing levels.

Hayner Center levy

Troy’s Hayner Cultural Center is asking voters to renew their 0.85-mill levy, which raises $592,000 a year, for another five years at the same rate. It would continue to cost the owner of a $100,000 home $21.41 per year.

The Hayner Center houses a community arts center featuring classes in art and other subjects, plus free year-round exhibits and concerts.

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