Kettering school board expected to pick one of three tax levy options

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

KETTERING — A recommendation is expected next week for one of three tax levy options Kettering City Schools is considering placing on the November ballot.

Board of education President Toby Henderson said Wednesday he anticipates the panel will give preliminary approval for a specific option for the district, which is facing “significant” projected budget shortfalls the next five years.

Henderson’s comments came after the three levy options were outlined to the board Tuesday night. They include:

•A 5.99-mill issue estimated to last three years.

•A 5.49-mill tax with the same lifespan.

•A 4.99-mill levy projected to last two to three years.

Kettering Treasurer Cary Furniss is expected next Tuesday night to suggest one of those three, Henderson said.

The board will “either adopt the recommendation or a different millage” so the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office can certify the amount before mid-July, when Henderson said a vote is expected on placing an issue before voters this fall.

Ohio election records show Aug. 10 is the filing deadline to have local issues on the November ballot.

“I don’t see any other options … the only option is to go to the taxpayers and ask for more revenue,” Henderson said. “The only other way is to cut. (And with) the shortfall that we’re projecting, there’s no way for us to cut here and there, or to make minor cuts here and minor cuts there.

“Even if we could, there’s no way for us to get to a spot where we could cover the significant shortfall that we’re projecting over the next five years,” he added. “This amount of money that we’re talking about would require — I believe — significant cuts in programs and staffing.”

A new levy would generate about $9 million annually if approved by voters, according to district financial documents. It’s unclear at this point how much it would cost property owners.

Last month, the district’s five-year forecast showed projected operating deficits through June 2026.

Projections have Kettering schools’ $104.8 million budget showing a $3.16 million deficit next fiscal year with expenditures at $117.45 million and revenues at $106.3 million in the following fiscal year, records show.

Furniss has said passage of a fall levy this year will allow the district to maintain current programs and services. Waiting until 2023 — or a levy failure this year — would cost $9 million in revenue, according the report he gave the board.

Voters in the Kettering district approved an additional 5.99-mill levy in 2018, county records show.

That levy was projected to last three years but was stretched to a fourth year, officials said. Kettering has spent the $13.7 million in federal pandemic aid from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and the American Rescue Plan, records show.

“I think the district has done a really good job of being fiscally responsible, being able to extend” the current levy, Kettering Education Association President Karen Gouge’ said.

The district had talked last year about a levy on the ballot. “And they were able to push that back another year, which I think shows their level of commitment to their responsibility with the taxpayers’ dollars and not going before absolutely needing to,” the teachers’ union leader added.

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