Why Kettering schools are seeking a levy this year after saying it wouldn’t happen

Kettering City Schools voters in November will face a 5.99-mill operating levy that would generate about $7.5 million a year in new money, according to district officials.

The Kettering Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday evening to place the issue on the ballot.

District Treasurer Dan Schall estimated the proposed levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $17.47 a month, or $209 per year.

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Kettering voters approved operating levies in 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013, and a facilities levy in 2016.

District officials put together a 10-year capital plan mailed to residents in 2016. It indicated several items that the school district needed to address, including kindergarten and preschool classroom space, plus major renovation of the Barnes building, high school auditorium and career tech areas. That was in addition to smaller investments in textbooks and technology, roofing and paving, and athletic facilities.

In March 2016, voters approved a permanent 3.4-mill facilities levy to address that capital plan, and projects have been ongoing ever since.

District officials had said in their mailing that if the 2016 levy was approved it would “keep the Kettering City Schools off the ballot for new money until at least 2019.”

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Superintendent Scott Inskeep said district officials are coming out with the 5.99-mill levy earlier in order to request a lower millage level than they originally planned for 2019. Inskeep said the levy will help offset the loss of funding from the elimination of the tangible personal property income tax.

“Kettering was very dependent on tangible personal property income tax,” Inskeep said. “That has been phased out, which caused us to have an extremely large deficit that we had not really anticipated being fully implemented. Putting the levy on the November ballot gives us the opportunity to come back early, which allowed us to keep that request lower than we thought it would be in 2019.”

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The last three new operating levies that Kettering schools voters approved were all either 4.9 or 4.89 mills. Last November, the 4.89-mill property tax levy from 2013 was renewed at the same rate and converted from a 5-year levy to a permanent one.

“We’ve come together with this particular decision because of really some factors that impacted us in the last few years,” Inskeep said. “One would be the increased costs that we’ve experienced with special education and meeting the needs of a very diverse group of students.”

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