Athens School Board Tax Levy Headed To The Ballot

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An emergency levy that the Athens City Schools superintendent says is “vital” to the operations of the district was approved yesterday to appear on November’s ballot.

The levy, while still called an emergency levy, has been in place for years, and the board is considering the 6.73-mill tax a renewal of operating funds.

“Obviously people are concerned about the prospect that we might make (staff) reductions,” Superintendent Tom Gibbs said. “If this levy were not to pass, it would become a very difficult circumstance in the district.”

The levy would be a “fixed sum” levy, as treasurer Matt Bunting told the board at their May meeting. The school district would receive $3.7 million from the tax if it passes.

The tax is not an increase, though different levies were brought to the discussion by board member Rusty Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse and fellow board member Chris Gerig said they had both received “negative feedback” from the news of a levy coming on to the ballot. They both said the new income tax levy being brought by the City of Athens was causing confusion for voters.

The board said they were not in favor of asking district voters for new money this time around, but some said new levies and bond issues might be on the horizon in the next few years for facilities maintenance and upgrades.

Gerig said he hoped voters would see efforts being made with in the district to work with money it already has.

“We are making a concerted effort to live within our means, and I think (voters) should reward us for that,” Gerig said.

Board President Kim Goldsberry said the board should only talk about new money after seeing where enrollment numbers are, and assessing the need for new or repaired buildings in the district.

“Next year, when we see where we are going, then we can really sell (a new levy to voters),” said Board President Kim Goldsberry. “Before then, we are just looking at…the boat is sinking and we are just putting gum on the bottom of it.”

If passed in November, the levy would cost $673 for a taxpayer with a property valuation of $100,000.