Sinclair will ask voters for more money in November

Sinclair Community College’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to take a new levy before Montgomery County voters in November — a move the college says will help it improve technology and training for growing career fields.

According to the Montgomery County Auditor’s office, the new 1 mill levy would cost an owner of a $100,000 home $35 per year. That’s in addition to the $98 those homeowners already pay for Sinclair’s 3.2 mill levy, which passed in 2008.

Sinclair pulls in slightly more than $27 million each year from property taxes. But if the new levy were to pass, the auditor’s office says the college would receive an additional $8.5 million per year.

Aside from levy funding, the college will rely mostly on state appropriations and tuition to cover 2016 expenses totaling $121.4 million.

The 7-0 decision came one day prior to the county’s filing deadline.

The college plans to use some of the money to build a new health center, which would house its 37 health science programs and be equipped with the “latest” simulation labs and clinics. The health center would be built on a parking lot between 4th and 5th streets, and attached to the Sifferlin Center.

New funds also would be used to upgrade information technology and advanced manufacturing programs, and increase job placement programs.

In addition, college officials say the levy would help keep costs down for local students. Montgomery County students pay $99.03 per credit hour, while students from other Ohio counties pay an additional $50 per credit hour.

“The Dayton region is changing rapidly, in advanced in manufacturing, health care and IT. We are working to make changes to adjust and align with the needs of the local economy,” said Sinclair president Steven Johnson.

The new levy would run for eight years. In 2017 or 2018 the college will move to renew its 2008 levy, and after that — if the new levy passes — the college would have a levy on the ballot every five years.

The college says having two levies could keep the institution’s finances secure, in case one were to fail. That’s not an uncommon levy strategy.

“One of things that we would like to do is not have all of our eggs in one basket, and have balanced levies and spread the risk,” Johnson said.

Apart from spreading risk, the levy would replace lost and stagnant revenue sources. As a result of the recent economic downturn, county property values dropped and Sinclair received lower-than-expected levy funds.

The college says it has watched its per-student, inflation-adjusted state appropriations decrease, dropping around 40 percent since 2000. In 2016, the college is expected to receive $700,000 less from property taxes than it did in the most recent fiscal year.

The college’s revenue is projected to fall by $3 million to $124.2 million from fiscal year 2015 to 2016. Its 2016 expenses are expected to drop by $4.2 million, to $121.4 million.

Sinclair passed its first levy in 1966, and has passed each renewal since.

College officials say, per state law, the funds would only be used at Sinclair’s Montgomery County campus.

“This levy is about keeping our foot on the accelerator as a region and as a local economy,” said Rob Connelly, chair of Sinclair’s Board of Trustees, in an email to this newspaper. “Sinclair is a vital resource and driver for our region and has grown along with this community for the last 128 years.

“This levy will allow us to continue to move forward and deliver outstanding quality.”

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