Lebanon school levy renewal faces opposition

Voters in the Lebanon school district will find an emergency renewal levy on March presidential primary ballots.

The five-year, 3.5 mill renewal is expected to raise $3 million a year in property taxes to help fund the district's operations.

Signs for and against Issue 4 have been posted in Lebanon and other areas of the district, including on Hart Road in Turtlecreek Twp.

A resident with an anti-levy sign on Hart Road could not be reached, but his neighbor said he planned to vote for the issue.

“It’s common sense. If you have poor schools, your housing values go down and you’re not being fair to our kids,” said Rick Hinkle.

Hinkle said his neighbor was an elderly man with no children in the district.

Signs opposing the renewal say, “No more taxes. Vote no on school levy,” but there would be no additional cost to district taxpayers.

The levy would continue to cost property owners about $120 for every $100,000 of property value.

“It renews money that’s already been taxed,” said Dr. Rich Coleman, a local veterinarian whose wife teaches in the district and whose children attend school in Lebanon.

If approved, the levy would be first due in 2017. It would replace a five-year, 3.9 mill levy that expires this year.

To maintain current funding levels, the district also will need to pass renewals in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Last year, district officials indicated one of the levies will need to raise new money to keep the district’s books in balance in coming years.

Issue 4 is the first renewal sought of the levy, first passed on Nov. 8, 2011 by 50.6 percent of voters.

If rejected in March, the school board could place the issue on the ballot in August and again November, if necessary.

Last year, city voters soundly defeated a proposed 0.25 percent increase in the local income tax to raise money to fix local roads.

But district voters have supported recent school levies.

In August 2013, voters renewed a five-year permanent improvement levy.

In November 2013, voters approved a bond issue for the local share of $72 million in school construction and a 19-year, 0.5-mill operating levy to support the expansion.

In August 2014, more than 66 percent of voters approved renewal of a three-year emergency levy raising $4.2 million a year and expiring in 2017.

Early voting has begun at the board office in Lebanon. The election is March 15.

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