CUYAHOGA FALLS -- Voters in the Cuyahoga Falls City School District will be asked on May 2 to consider renewing a property tax levy that expires at the end of the year.
The Cuyahoga Falls City School District has a five-year, 4.75 mill-operating levy renewal for current expenses on the May 2 ballot. This levy was first approved in 2002 and was renewed in 2007 and 2012; thus, 2017 is the last year of collection and the levy is again in need of renewal.
The levy will appear as Issue 12 on the ballot.
The current effective rate of the levy is 4.46 mills and generates approximately $3.3 million in general fund revenue, according to Dr. Todd Nichols, superintendent and CEO of the city schools. "Thus, passing the levy renewal is essential to the continued operation of the school district," Nichols said. "Furthermore, a renewal does not represent any additional taxes."
The levy pays for operating expenses such as salaries and benefits, supplies, contract services, equipment, transportation and maintenance. Nichols added that the levy costs the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $140.49 a year.
This is the third in a series of three renewals for Cuyahoga Falls City Schools, the superintendent said, adding passage in May provides the community flexibility in planning for the future. "As part of our strategic plan CF Vision 2020, one of our focus areas is Facilities and Resource Leveraging," Nichols said, adding the district has accomplished resource leveraging through fiscal management. Staffing has been reduced at all levels to save more than $125,000 from last year, he said.
"We have also hired smartly," said Nichols. "An opening in our maintenance department provided an opportunity to hire a staff member who has the ability to complete HVAC and plumbing repairs in-house rather than purchasing outside services. The change resulted in $60,000 in savings so far; we look for those dividends to continue."
The departments of College and Career Readiness and Instructional Technology have revised contracts for student services, security and academic assessment, he said, resulting in an anticipated reduction of more than $400,000 in those areas.
Nichols said if the levy fails on May 2, it will be placed on the next possible election ballot in August or November. The current levy expires on Dec. 31.
Jake Ricker, co-chair of the levy committee, said volunteers in the levy campaign have been spreading the message by word-of-mouth that this is a renewal levy that represents no new taxes to residents.
"It's money that will continue to help provide and maintain the district needs for another five years," said committee co-chair Matt Weiss. "The big thing is it's not an additional tax."
Weiss said committee members have been meeting regularly and recently received printed labels that are being applied over old yard signs to update them at a minimal cost. Those signs will be distributed to the schools for pick up.
Volunteers are also gearing up to walk from house to house and perform a "literature drop," Ricker said, with door hangers. It's a simple way to inform voters, Weiss added.
Weiss noted that although the levy committee no longer has a social media presence, volunteers are informing the public through door hangers, yard signs and the district's "Roar" ad in the Falls News-Press.