School Board Holds Levy Forum

Stacy Overly, Public Finance Resources, spoke to attendees at the levy forum at Memorial High School Tuesday night.
By: 
TERESA SCHULTZ
Staff Writer

The St. Marys City Schools Board of Education held a levy forum Tuesday night to explain what an earned income tax would mean for the residents of St. Marys School District. The forum also gave community members a chance to have their questions and concerns answered.
In addition to the board members, Stacy Overly from Public Finance Resources was on hand to give third-party information to the voters.
"I think, from my viewpoint, the school district has an easy story to tell because they've been conservative with their spending the past five years," Overly said.
St. Marys City Schools Interim Superintendent Howard Overman opened the forum by explaining what the 1.5 percent income tax would be used for and what the district has already done to reduce its expenses.
After introducing the board members, Overman opened the floor to questions.
How much revenue do you think will come in with this tax?
Robin Laman, board treasurer: "$3.6 million is what we have projected annually. This is a five-year termed income tax so after five years, we will readdress it, reassess it and see how it (the budget) looks at that time."
Laman added that the current levy brings in $1.8 million.
Property taxes in St. Marys have gone up this year and people think that the school gets that money. Can you explain why that isn't the case?
Overly: So there's different reasons why property tax bills can increase. First, a district like yours is at the lowest possible millage rate for school district collections in the state. You can't go lower than 20 mils. In addition to the 20 mils, you have a static levy so that static emergency levy doesn't count toward that 20 mil floor calculation.
All things remaining steady, how long do you expect this $3.6 million to last before you have to ask for another tax increase of some form?
Leman: We were projecting that over the next several years, along with this new money, we are looking at reductions. We're going to make this last as long as we can.
We were promised that school district funds were not to be used to fund the new stadium, yet we're spending over $400,000 over a period of 20 years to provide lighting for it. Lighting is integral to a football stadium. The tax payers are paying for a portion of this stadium then, right?
Overman: The board before I got here set aside money for the improvement of the facility.

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