More than 56 percent of Lebanon school district rejected a new 4-year, 4.99-mill tax levy in Tuesday’s election, according to unofficial election-night results.
The issue was defeated 2,917 to 2,267, according to results posted by the Warren County Board of Elections.
“To say we are disappointed would be an understatement. During the campaign we tried to convey the message that we have been excellent stewards of taxpayer money,” Superintendent Todd Yohey said in a statement.
Yohey said the district was in the bottom 6 percent of the state on spending per student.
“Our kids are receiving a quality education. They are graduating at a high percentage, and student involvement is very high, yet we are not spending a lot of money to meet those expectations.”
Yohey said the district would begin studying potential cuts.
“It’s a real shame that we must now begin dismantling this great program. However, our community has spoken and we will now roll up our sleeves and begin the difficult task of deciding what programs, personnel and student activities will be affected.”
Yohey said the board would meet to consider going back on the ballot in November.
“I do want to thank our community of supporters and everyone that worked on the campaign. Your efforts for our kids are to be applauded and we deeply appreciate it.”
The issue would have raised $5 million a year for the school district in each of the next four years and tacked on about $175 for every $100,000 of property value assessed on tax bills.
Jack Chrisman, leader of the anti-levy campaign, could not be reached to comment.
Before the election, Cole Proeschel, a fourth-generation farmer with a 265-acre farm, said he opposed a property tax increase, because it was hardest on owners of larger properties, often farmers.
“If they would just stop asking for a property tax levy, if they would just ask for something more income-based, I’d be right on board,” Proeschel said before the election.
The last time voters were asked to approve new money for the district, the school levy passed by 1.2 percentage points, or 251 votes in November 2011, according to the election records.
The election board is scheduled to certify the results on May 21.