Trimble Local Schools To Put Five-Year Levy On Ballot

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After two failed attempts to pass a 5-mill permanent improvement levy, Trimble school board officials passed the first of two resolutions Tuesday to put the levy back on the ballot in November with some changes.

The first resolution means the county auditor will calculate how much the levy will generate.

Instead of the levy being continuous, the board decided to limit it to five years. A continuous levy means it stays in effect until the board notifies the county auditor that the funds are no longer needed, explained Treasurer Cindy Rhonemus.

“The message that was consistent from the public was that they would have voted for (the levy) if it had not been a continuing levy,” said Board President Stephen Miller. “So we’ll see. We still have the need, and this will provide some dedicated funding.”

The levy initially failed in November 53.3 percent to 46.7 percent and again in May 51 percent to 48.9 percent.

Under a five-year levy, the school could borrow one half of what the levy would produce in the five years, which was estimated to be around $475,000, as The Messenger previously reported.

While school officials have ways to spend that cash, it’s not enough to address the district’s most pressing concern — the repair of the Jacksonville roof. The roof, which leaks over the cafeteria after a heavy rain, is estimated to cost between $700,000 to $850,000 to fully repair.

“Is everybody sure this is what we want to do?” asked board member Terry Holbert. “If this fails, we have no money. We have the other option that would result in money next year. I just wanted to bring that up.”

Holbert was referring to the option of moving the district’s inside mills to a permanent improvement fund. If approved by the auditor, this is a legal way for school districts to increase funds for permanent improvements without needing a vote. Board member Rob Miller said he wants to try the five-year 5-mill levy first.

“If they turn it down, we’ll look at the inside millage,” Rob Miller said.

“Make no mistake, something will have to be done,” Stephen Miller added. “If voters turn it down this time, our needs will not go away. We will have to stretch even the five-year 5-mill to the max. This will be the public’s last opportunity to get behind their schools.”

To get the levy on the ballot, the board must pass a second resolution by early August.