Get the Facts

Get the Facts
Posted on 03/15/2019
ChieftainOn May 7, 2019, an emergency operating levy for the Bellefontaine City Schools will appear on your ballot. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the levy and how the funds will be used to support the quality education provided to our community’s children.

Why is a levy necessary now?

With the exception of the Bond Issues for the high school renovations and construction of the new elementary and middle schools, the district has only asked taxpayers for new, additional operating money once, in 2007, in the last twenty-seven years!

Our school board has done an excellent job controlling costs over the years. Think about what has happened to costs over those 27 years! Whether it’s insurance, personnel costs, supplies, materials, utilities, transportation, etc., inflationary costs impact school districts just as they do any homeowner or business. With rising operating expenses over many years, minimal increases in state and local funding, and reductions in federal funding, the district has now reached a point where additional operating dollars are needed.

Where does the District get its revenue? (General fund and Emergency Operating Levy only)

Local Taxes - 29%
State Funding - 61%
Other - 10% - tuition, interest on investments, fees, rentals, rollback and homestead reimbursements and Medicaid reimbursements.

With 61% of the district’s budget dependent on State funding, anytime the state funding is flat or declines it has a significant negative impact on the overall budget. State funding has not kept pace with inflationary costs over the last five years and the negative impact on the budget has been large. In addition, local property tax has not shown a significant increase since 2010.

The table on page 3 shows the percentage of revenue the Bellefontaine community is asked to carry to support the district, compared to surrounding districts.

What is the District asking for?

The Bellefontaine City Board of Education has placed a 10-year emergency operating levy on the Tuesday, May 7, 2019 ballot.

The 10-year emergency operating levy is millage for additional purposes. The District has only asked for new additional millage for operating purposes once in the last twenty-seven years. This levy will raise revenues for the day-to-day operating expenses of the school district. The emergency operating levy will raise $1,750,000 per year for the next ten years. The average millage needed to generate this dollar amount is 6.2 mills.

An emergency levy is a type of operating levy. The word Emergency is a term that must be used according to State Law for this kind of operating levy. It is submitted to the voters as a fixed dollar amount. In other words, the amount collected from this levy does not grow, even with new construction. While a millage amount will appear on the ballot, it is advisory only. The mills are adjusted annually to bring in the approved amount. If property values rise, the tax rate for the levy is adjusted so taxes collected within the district do not rise during the life of the levy.

Why an Emergency Levy now?

(NOTE: If approved, this will be only the second time in twenty-seven years the district will receive new, additional millage for operating purposes.)

The Bellefontaine City School District is mandated by the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) to have a five-year financial forecast showing expenses do not exceed the district’s operating funds and cash on hand during that period. Although the district has been in deficit spending since FY2017, our five-year forecast indicates that at the present rate, the Bellefontaine City School District will not be able to meet the forecasted expenses in FY2021. The ORC does not allow a school district to operate in that manner. Therefore, either massive cuts need to be made or additional operating funds need to be received for the school district to stay in the black. By FY2023, our five-year forecast indicates that we will be facing a deficit of over nine million dollars.

Based on current projections, with the passage of the Emergency Operating Levy in May 2019, along with our present budget cuts; we anticipate being able to keep our school district operating at the break-even point or with modest cash balance through at least 2023.

How much would the levy cost me?

The estimated cost would be as follows for a home that costs:

home value

How will the funds from the levy be used in the Bellefontaine City Schools?

The goal of the district is to provide excellent educational programming for all students. The funds generated will be used for the daily operating expenses of the district in support of the excellent educational opportunities. Daily operating expenses include 1) excellent educational programs, 2) utilities, 3) transportation, 4) textbooks, 5) building/grounds maintenance and cleaning, 6) staff, and, 7) classroom expenses.

Every dollar raised in Bellefontaine stays in Bellefontaine.

What happens if the levy fails?

Should the levy not be successful on May 7, given the importance of the funding generated from the levy and the need to stabilize the District’s finances going forward, it would be recommended to the Board to put the levy before voters again in November 2019. The District will also need to make additional budget cuts over and above the $1 million in permanent cuts planned for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Are the Bellefontaine Schools spending my tax dollars wisely?

Notice the percentage of the total budget (far right column) that the district asks the community to carry. Bellefontaine City School District only asks the community to carry 25% of the total budget. Look how that compares locally. The District also spends well below the state average on per pupil expenses.

District Expediture

* Based on FY18 Ohio Department of Education Office of School Options and Finance data. Local, State, Federal, and Other Non-tax revenue make up the student revenue total.

What has the district done to contain district costs?

To stay ahead of rising personnel costs, the district has reduced $1.65 million from the budget over the last five years through attrition and reassignment of staff. In addition, the district has a plan to reduce next year’s budget on a permanent basis by $1 million. Through conservative spending and smart budgeting practices over many years, the district has been good stewards of taxpayer dollars. One sign of a financially healthy school district is the percent of the entire budget that is spent on personnel. The rule of thumb is a healthy, well managed school district should spend 85% or less of the entire budget on personnel costs. In Fiscal Year 2018, Bellefontaine City Schools spent 79% on personnel costs. Fiscal Year 2019 is projected to be 82%.

In recent years, through the construction project and consolidation of buildings, the district now operates fewer facilities in more efficient ways. Utility costs have been greatly reduced as a result. In fact, the combined utilities bills for the new elementary and middle schools, with air conditioning, are lower than the utility costs of the high school.

It has been eleven years since the last time the district asked for community support. Prior to that levy, it had been sixteen years.

Where have costs increased over time for the district?

Rising special education caseloads and expenses
Costs associated with student social and emotional issues
School and student safety expenses
Credit recovery programs
Rising personnel costs
Online schooling through the district VLA program
Students participating in the open enrollment out program

Does the District receive funding for all courses/programs?

There are many unfunded mandates facing districts. One such mandate from the state is the College Credit Plus requirement in which the district is required to offer classes at our high school for college credit. When the program first started, colleges were able to offer credit at no cost to districts and/or districts were permitted to charge students/families. Legislation now states that colleges must charge at least $40.00 per credit hour and students/families can no longer be charged. While this is a great benefit to students and families, it does come at a cost to districts. Here is our history with this very popular opportunity for students:

Dual Enrollment & College Credit Plus Data

Is there a break in taxes for senior citizens?

The state offers the Homestead Exemption program for senior citizens, disabled persons, and surviving spouses. If a person qualifies, the homestead exemption provides a reduction of the real estate taxes. Based on a person’s income and location, a year’s exemption could range from $50 to $350 (approximation). To qualify for the homestead exemption, the following criteria must be met:

* Be at least 65 years of age during the year in which you first file, or be permanently and totally disabled, or be a surviving spouse (of at least 59 years of age) of a previous applicant.

* Have a total of not more than $32,800 Adjusted Gross Income on your State Tax return.

* Own and occupy your primary place of residence as of January 1 of the year you file.

* If the above criteria are met, a Homestead Exemption Application Form should be filed with Jack Reser, Logan County Auditor, on or before the first Monday in June. For instructions, see the form or contact the Logan County Auditor’s Office at 937-599-7209.


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