After a pair of tax levy efforts failed in March and November 2020, North Central Local Schools is poised to go back to the ballot in May in hopes of generating much-needed funding for the district.
District officials met remotely on Monday to organize for 2021 and discuss the results of a questionnaire that was posted on its website and mailed to residents.
The questionnaire sought to gather information regarding the community’s opinion about three potential funding measures. Superintendent William Hanak said that, among the 98 total respondents, 33% favored a 1/2 tax on earned income, a proposal that would raise around $334,169 a year for 10 years. Another 26.5% of respondents favored an emergency operating tax levy for 3.9 mills to collect about $420,000 a year for five years. Some 22.7% preferred a permanent improvement tax levy, also at 3.9 mills. And 17.7% said they preferred no levy at all.
No formal action was taken on Monday, but Board President Homer Hendricks said the district needs to settle on a plan and move forward during its regular monthly meeting next week in order to have paper filed to get the issue on the May primary election ballot.
Board members generally seemed to concur with the survey results and were leaning toward pursuing the earned income tax measure.
Board member Shane Martin said he preferred this option because it’s the “most fair tax and also the tax that would put our school district in the best position going forward.”
Whichever method is ultimately selected, the district knows that getting the necessary information out to the community is key to getting it passed.
“We need some community involvement,” Hendricks said, with fellow board member Tim Livengood adding, “If people feel like they’re included they’re more likely to support what we’re trying to do.”
North Central’s most recent levy attempt, for a 3.92-mill, five-year property tax levy, failed in November by a vote of 1,214 against to 885 for.
Officials urged residents to call them with any questions or concerns about the need for a levy. They also responded to one common question, explaining that the nascent football program is paid for entirely by the football boosters group.
In regards to the questionnaire, which had less than 10% response rate, Hanak said 64.7% of respondents were related to someone at North Central Local Schools, 75% said they felt North Central had responsibly invested its tax money and 79.6% said they support North Central’s athletics programs.
Prior to the levy discussion, the board reorganized for 2021, choosing Hendricks to continue serving as board president and Anthony Burnett as vice president. Meetings will continue to generally be held on the third Tuesday of each month, with some exceptions.
The board also assigned positions for committees and liaisons and authorized the treasurer and superintendent to take regular actions on the district’s behalf.